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Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL)


Engaging students in their education has become an important aspect of teaching today for several reasons. Research demonstrates that when students are engaged in their learning, they are more likely to move from simply receiving information from the instructor to understanding the content and thus create knowledge (Bain, 2004; Nilson, 2010). Additionally, classrooms that are student-centered and allow students to actively participate in instruction provide them with efficacy, meaning that when students get to connect content to what is important to them personally, education has a measurable impact on their lives (Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, & Norman, 2010). Lastly, when students are engaged in their learning, they are also more likely to persist in school, making engagement a main retention technique today (McClenney & Arnsparger, 2012; Snyder, 2010).



Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., Lovett, M. C., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works:

        7 research-based principles for smart teaching.

Bain, K. What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

McClenney, K. M. & Arnsparger, A. (2012). Students speak: Are we listening: Starting right in the

        community college. Austin, TX: Center for Community College Engagement.

Nilson, L. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors. San Francisco,

        CA: Jossey-Bass.

Snyder, B. (Ed.). (2010). What faculty members need to know about retention. A Magna Publications

       White Paper. Retrieved from 

Engagement Basics

Day 1:

Learn Names

  • Name Tents
  • Name Tags
  • Name game ice breakers

Rest of semester:

Demonstrate care

  • Make eye contact
  • Listen when students speak
  • Use students' names
  • Email students when they miss class
  • Show interest in their lives
  • Discuss career paths
  • Return coursework in a timely manner (1 week preferred, 2 weeks maximum)

Create Community Among Students

  • Provide class time for students to share with each other (small group)
  • Have students work on material with each other in class
  • Have students prepare or connect on assignments outside of class
  • Consider extra credit for students who work in study groups

Personalize Course

  • Create assignments that allow some choice
  • Give extra credit options that apply material to lives outside of school
  • Empower students to develop classroom rules

Easy Engagement Techniques

Pikes Peak State College Libraries
Information ∞ Inquiry ∞ Learning