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Student engaging. What’s that about? Colin Bryson, Daniel Ashall and Bethany Parker, Newcastle University

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1 Student engaging. What’s that about? Colin Bryson, Daniel Ashall and Bethany Parker, Newcastle University

2 Goals  A shared understanding of the nature and meaning of student engagement  Look at the research and evidence  Consider how this should guide practice and policy and an example of that in action Students engaging

3 To meet regularly to discuss SE. An early goal is to develop a concept map and set of principles that underpin the promotion of SE To establish an annual conference drawing together leading edge work on SE - and to feed into publication through journals and books. (Next conference– Sept 13/14 th 2012, Southampton) To gain funding to support these events and activities. To create a bank of useful resources for us to share. To facilitate communication between us (web, network etc) Students engaging

4 Conceptions of engagement – the dominant paradigm - NSSE Roots (Becker, 1961: Pace, 1979: Astin, 1977: Chickering and Gamson, 1987: Pascarella and Terenzini, 1991, 2005) A focus in USA on active classroom behaviours - (National Student Survey on Engagement) – George Kuh Survey used very widely - Over 100 publications Now revising survey into NSSE 2.0 Australia – the FYE…convergence with US thinking Coates developed NSSE into the AUSSE (and now we have SASSE etc) Students engaging

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6 NSSE used as a proxy of quality Student engagement is defined as students’ involvement in activities and conditions that are linked with high- quality learning. A key assumption is that learning outcomes are influenced by how much an individual participates in educationally purposeful activities. While students are seen to be responsible for constructing their own knowledge, learning is also seen to depend on institutions and staff generating conditions that stimulate student involvement. Is that better than the NSS? Students engaging

7 Australian perspectives Focus on first year experience – big surveys in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009 Connectedness (McInnis, 1995) Multi-dimensional engagement (Krause and Coates, 2008) -7 scales transition; academic; peer; staff; intellectual; online; beyond-class Students engaging

8 Problems with that paradigm SE is holistic and socially constructed  Every student is an individual and different (Haggis, 2004)  Engagement is a concept which encompasses the perceptions, expectations and experience of being a student and the construction of being a student in HE (Bryson and Hand, 2007).  Engagement underpins learning and is the glue that binds it together – both located in being and becoming. (Fromm, 1977)  More than about doing/behaving and quantity  Method, validity and reliability issues  SE is dynamic and fluid  SE is multidimensional, includes student’s whole lives and it is the interaction and pattern that matters not any specific variable – avoid reductionism  SE needs to sensitive to the local context  Closed question surveys do not allow student voice Students engaging

9 A different form of student evidence….my own work  Drawn from seven studies since 2003, mainly qualitative  Includes two longitudinal studies  And one of these was the staff perspective on SE  Identified both levels and influences – and the dynamic nature and fragility of engagement Students engaging

10 Key influences on engagement 1. Student expectations and perceptions – match to the ‘personal project’ and interest in subject 2. Balances between challenge and appropriate workload 3. Degrees of choice, autonomy, risk, and opportunities for growth and enjoyment 4. Trust relationships 5. Communication and discourse 6. A sense of belonging and community Students engaging

11 A wider exploration of the lit Strong evidence base and critical perspective from schools SE research (Fredricks et al; Zyngier; Gibbs & Posskitt; Harris) Metaconstruct (includes emotional) Pattern rather than variable centred Critical take on SE Students engaging

12 More perspectives Professional formation and authentic learning (identity projects) (Holmes; Reid and Solomonides) – an ‘ontological turn’ Inclusivity (Hockings) Ways of being a student (and SOMUL) (Dubet; Brennan et al) Students engaging

13 Engagement to (and for) what? Engagement to and with different levels (Bryson and Hand) Collective SE – but also participation and partnership (Little et al: Bovill: Healey et al) Integration, belonging and community (Tinto: Kember: Wenger and several others) Intellectual development (Perry: Baxter Magolda: Belenky) Students engaging

14 The value of engagement after HE (my most recent research) Integrated development of the whole person (and ‘disposition’)  Graduateness and graduate attributes (Barrie, 2007)  Graduate identity (Holmes, 2001) and USEM (Yorke and Knight, 2006) The whole HE experience – thus the extracurricular is vital – authentic experiences The engaged student tends to take up more opportunities AND is better able to join them up in their thinking Students engaging

15 The flipside of SE Alienation, inertia/anomie and disengagement (Mann: Krause)  Performativity  Being ‘other’  Disciplinary power  Inertia  Battle between cultures and values Students engaging

16 A revised definition of SE Student engagement is about what a student brings to Higher Education in terms of goals, aspirations, value and beliefs and how these are shaped and mediated by their experience whilst a student. SE is constructed and reconstructed through the lenses of the perceptions and identities held by students and the meaning and sense a student makes of their experiences and interactions. As players and shapers of the educational context, educators need to foster educational, purposeful SE to support and enable students to learn in constructive and powerful ways and realise their potential in education and society. Students engaging

17 To aid clarity -separate the dual Engaging students Students engaging

18 Engaging students - principles We should: 1. Foster student’s willingness and readiness to engage by enhancing their self-belief 2. Embrace the point that students have diverse backgrounds, expectations, orientations and aspirations – thus different ‘ways of being a student’, and to welcome, respect and accommodate all of these in an inclusive way 3. Enable and facilitate trust relationships (between staff:students and students:students) in order to develop a discourse with each and all students and to show solidarity with them 4. Create opportunities for learning (in its broadest sense) communities so that students can develop a sense of competence and belonging within these communities Students engaging

19 5. Teach in ways to make learning participatory, dialogic, collaborative, authentic, active and critical 6. Foster autonomy and creativity, and offer choice and opportunities for growth and enriching experiences in a low risk and safe setting 7. Recognise the impact on learning of non-institutional influences and accommodate these 8. Design and implement assessment for learning with the aim to enable students to develop their ability to evaluate critically the quality and impact of their own work 9. Seek to negotiate and reach a mutual consensus with students on managing workload, challenge, curriculum and assessment for their educational enrichment – through a partnership model – without diluting high expectations and educational attainment 10. Enable students to become active citizens and develop their social and cultural capital Students engaging

20 So what works? Kuh (2008) i. First year seminars (e.g. SI and PAL) ii. Learning communities – cross module iii. Service learning – experiential iv. Common intellectual experiences v. Writing intensive courses vi. Collaborative projects vii. Undergraduate research viii. Diversity learning ix. Internships x. Capstone courses Students engaging

21 A holistic approach to a degree programme % One of the best results at Newcastle 1/8 comparable courses at other institutions  Combined Honours at Newcastle  Unique degree  Missing sense of identity/ belonging  Curriculum opportunities % lowest of all programmes at Newcastle 7/ 8 comparable courses at other universities.

22 Enhancing engagement in Combined Honours Student representation:  Empowerment- Student led, working groups  Partnership  Active agenda Success stories  Combined Honours Week  Curriculum co-design  Redesign of transition Students engaging

23 Enhancing engagement in Combined Honours Building community:  Facilities  shared spaces  social events Students engaging

24 Enhancing engagement in Combined Honours Peer mentoring – social integration PASS scheme – academic integration Students engaging


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