Student Engagement

According to Barkley (2010), student engagement means that students involved in academic work assigned to them through using high level thinking skills such as analyzing information or solving problems. This indicates that instructors like Barkley assume that engagement is closely related with active learning. Educational theories show that learning is a dynamic process which creates meanings out of new information by connecting with existing knowledge. I would like to relate with the meaning of learning to clarify the process of transferring knowledge of economics to adult learners. As previously mentioned, students learn economics through reading a text book. However, if they want to really understand economics, they should engage in applying economics concepts to analyze real world problems. To achieve such student engagement in learning, it is very important to establish class room environment that lead to create motivation and active learning among adult students. Therefore, I would argue that student engagement is a product of motivation and active learning.
As an instructor, I use some teaching approaches such as problem based learning, collaborative learning, and flipping class room structure to create motivation and active learning behavior among students. A class room filled with motivated active learners becomes a pleasant place where both teachers and students have professional and friendly relationships. Generally, the combination of motivation and active learning behavior leads to fruitful student engagement. However, some instructors want students to be truly transformed by their educational experiences. This is called transfomative learning which creates very extensive and thorough change.
Transformation learning is occurs when students are challenged by new information. Under such a situation, students understand that there are multiple answers to a particular question and everybody has right to bear his/her own opinion. Some instructors consider that transformative learning as an element of student engagement. But it may not be an element of student engagement, when engagement achieves a high level of personal intensity. However, motivation and active learning work simultaneously in achieving student engagement. When motivation and active learning interact, they contribute substantially to increase student engagement.


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