THE SECRET OF STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

Bobokholov Shokhrukh Shuhratovich
Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages, Samarkand city
shoxa1995@gmail.com, +998915277713

THE SECRET OF STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

Annotation

The article covers the importance of the student engagement concept and probable causes of disengagement. Some solutions that were developed by the IMEP team are analysed and the result of their implementation is revealed in detail beneath.

Keywords: The importance of student engagement, root causes of the disengagement, what students really need, a resolution by IMEP, successful engagement. 

  1. The importance of student engagement

Albeit there is a sizeable number of interpretations of «student engagement», it is usually used to describe the involvement of students in the learning environment. In other words, the term is comprehended best as the link between a student and the learning environment which includes:

  • The community
  • The peers
  • The instructions
  • The schedule (curriculum)

Also, to understand the term better, it is very important to clarify the criteria upon which student engagement could be measured against. They are the followings:

  • Behavioural engagement (maintain attendance in social, academic and extracurricular activities)
  • Emotional engagement (concentrate on the reactions to peers, teachers, academics and institution)
  • Cognitive engagement (concentrate on the level of conscious students’ learning investment)

The problem is that student engagement varies in length and continuance. For instance, some students may feel a huge interest one semester but might be discouraged the next; analogically another student may like some lessons but be bored in others.

Student engagement is commonly seen as a key to address the problems of poor academic achievements, isolations of students, boredom and high dropout rates. 1

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1 Jannifer A. Fredricks, “School Engagement: Potential of the Concept” http://www.isbe.net/learningsupports/pdfs/engagement-concept.pdf.

 

Ultimately, there is a clear answer to the question “why student engagement is important?”. First, it has a profound effect on how the students perform on standardised tests, plus the engaged students are not likely to drop out of the institution. Moreover, it greatly contributes to a safe and creative atmosphere and society.

Western researches demonstrate that student engagement degrades as students’ level rise from upper elementary grades to high school. The surveys indicate that, by high school, up to 60 per cent of students are disengaged.2 Not only it touches the western countries but also similar figures, that adversely impact the educational potential of the country are observed. Given the facts, more and more organisations, educators and schools are studying the root problems of the disengagement.

  1. The root causes of disengagement

There are two different factors that influence upon student engagement:

  • Non-school factor
  • School factor

A detailed explanation of those factors is shown beneath.

Non-school factors

 

Individual factors Family factors
Poor self-confidence Size of the family
Poor intellectual abilities Abuse or conflicts in family
Problems with psychology Isolation from family
Disabilities Health disabilities of parents
Bad academic performance Social status of the family
Problems with behaviour Low income of the family
Attendance problem Unemployed parents

*All the mentioned points in the table above are a sole opinion of the author (Bobokholov Shokhrukh) and were not based on any facts or researches.

School factors

 

Within school Within class
Size of school Size of class
School infrastructure Learning resources like technology
Climate and discipline Relations between a student and a teacher
Social climate (social behaviour, bullying) Relations of peers
Staff competence Morale of the teacher
Participation of parents Schedule
Community Assessment strategy

*All the mentioned points in the table above are a sole opinion of the author (Bobokholov Shokhrukh) and were not based on any facts or researches.

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2 Helen M. Marks, “Students Engagement in Instructional Activity” http://gtnpd46.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/file/view/Marks.pdf/538414934/Marks.pdf.

As a matter of fact, plethora causes that should be addressed exist. For instance, many institutions apply the curriculum and educational activities that are far off students’ interest. In other words, there is no assistance by teachers in understanding the importance of learning subjects in a real life. Also, the schools that determine the curriculum and educational activities instead of the students themselves, are considered disengaging. This phenomenon, unfortunately, is widely spread among institutions all over the Uzbekistan. This negative trend poses reluctance to study and participate in academic projects, since the students are guided against their will (students have very little or no say).

Moreover, according to the survey that was conducted within the interests of the IMEP project at Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages, students voted that they insufficiently supported, especially when teachers try to predominantly control. Again, it should be said that students are interested in having the right to choose and more active participation in education process development and implementation. Therefore, negligence to the preference of the students and their goals restricts their self-esteem and the process of own progress assessing, which in turn, brings disengagement as well.

  1. What students really need

During IMEP meetings, the groups of students were involved to reveal what students genuinely want and need in order to maintain the interest in studies. At the end of the conference, the group of young students drew a conclusion revealing some problems causing their dissatisfaction in the learning process:

  1. Quality of lessons
  2. Lack of extracurricular activities
  3. Lack of Clubs e.g.: speaking club
  4. Absence of student voice
  5. Absence of complaint boxes (in some institutions)

Overall, it is clear that students really pay attention to the atmosphere of the educational process. And obviously, students seek to the places where the quality of the lessons is higher, the curriculum is full of interesting events and activities, and freedom of choice is prioritised.

  1. A possible resolution by IMEP

According to recommendations provided by IMEP, there are the 16 most important aspects that HEIs should consider and develop.

Developing a Student Engagement Strategy/Policy
Ensuring Early engagement
Setting up a system of student representatives
Establishing Course Committees
Reviewing the system of feedback: Closing the Feedback Loop
Acting on the Feedback and Engaging in Solutions
Engaging Professional Support Departments
Supporting Youth Organisations and Student Unions
Setting up a Mentoring scheme
Establishing an Ambassadors scheme and Alumni Networks
Encouraging Internationalisation of Higher Education
Pushing boundaries
Awarding Great Practice
Organising regular events for Sharing and Debate
Making a difference
Supporting Student Clubs and Societies

*The information in this table was adapted from DRAFT4 IMEP Guidelines

Most of the recommendations above were launched and have been being practiced successfully.

  1. Results

Within the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages, we have already realised most of the suggestions.

Firstly, last year, course committees were established and currently operate on a regular basis as an integral part of the institute’s infrastructure. This kind of approach has boosted the self-confidence of the students in their rights to have a better education.

Secondly, the administration of SamSIFL works on the early engagement concept. In this way, sporting events among students and teachers are being organised more and more, thus, building a strong, friendly relationship between those two.

Moreover, the number of volunteer clubs has been increasing day by day. Today, there more than 30 clubs and mentoring schemes the aim of which is to support freshmen and help to adapt to the current atmosphere, which is not a small account.

Overall, the benefits of the student engagement process are enormous. Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages is taking initial steps on launching the student engagement and these measures are delivering the results. Full-scale implementation of proposals, reflected in Guidelines on Student engagement, will further increase the satisfaction level of the students, improve the quality of education which in turn will secure higher employability rates of SSIFL graduates.

 

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