Using Positive Student Engagement to Increase Student Achievement
Teachers and school-based administrators alike have searched to find ways to increase student achievement in their schools. Several widely known and discussed strategies include using data to drive instruction, employing highly qualified teachers, and improving school leadership. Additionally, positive student engagement in the classroom is another compelling factor—but not as widely discussed—that research has reported to be critical in enhancing student achievement (Akey, 2006; Heller, Calderon, & Medrich, 2003; Garcia-Reid, Reid, & Peterson, 2005). Positive student engagement is not an easy term to define, yet we know it when we see it. Students are engaged when they “devote substantial time and effort to a task, when they care about the quality of their work, and when they commit themselves because the work seems to have significance beyond its personal instrumental value” (Newmann, 1986, p. 242).
Engaged students also are more likely to perform well academically. Therefore, teachers need a large inventory of instructional strategies to engage a variety of students (Garcia-Reid et al., 2005). For additional information on these topics, see The Center’s January 2007 newsletter, A Teacher’s Guide to Differentiating Instruction (www.centerforcsri.org/files/TheCenter_NL_Jan07.pdf). This newsletter describes how student engagement impacts learning and outlines ways in which teachers and school administrators can foster student engagement.
Teachers are key players in fostering student engagement (Akey, 2006; Garcia-Reid et al., 2005). They work directly with the students and typically are the most influential in a student’s educational experience. Creating a culture of achievement in their classroom, developing interactive and relevant lessons and activities, and being encouraging and supportive to students are all ways in which teachers can foster student engagement in the classroom.
Reprinted with the permission of the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. © 2008 Learning Point Associates. All rights reserved.
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