Approaches to Student Engagement: Does ideology matter?

Ann B Vibert, Carolyn Shield. McGill Journal of Education. Montreal: Spring 2003. Vol. 38, Iss. 2; pg. 221

Where is the importance of engagement when a school division is data driven?
Focus is so often on statistics- How does one school look against others?
We are exasperated by new programs, changes to policy and structure…
If we spent ‘as much time and energy'(p.2) on modifications, differentiation, enrichment and so on that behaviour would become less of a problem and learning would increase- bettering the learning and the ‘stats’.
We must aim to ‘understand students themselves'(p.3) and identify their needs and interests to make curriculum relevant and interesting for them. The marks, scores and successes of the classroom will look after themselves if educators are connected with the individual learners.
What is engagement?
How can it be noted?
How do you engage the unengaged within a room full of students who seem engaged?
-“positive school culture
– strong leadership
– parental involvement
– strong disciplinary policies
– focus on student learning
– high achievable challenges and standards
– safe, supportive environment “(p.3)
NOTE: I will have to ensure that I foster all of the above on a very regular and reflective level with my School of Global Media Studies Students. I cannot get bogged down with the development of the course and must stay true to my ‘student centred’ beliefs.
“Engagement, separated from its social, cultural and political contexts, is a contradiction that ignores deeply embedded understandings about the purpose and nature of engagement itself”(p. 4). If we do not connect real life to curricular outcomes we cannot expect students to be involved in the learning or assessment process. We must infuse who we are into what we teach if we expect students to do the same. Infused of material, current events, concepts and lessons into who we are, what we believe and where we want to go is at the foundation of lifelong learning and engagement.
Student Engagement From Different Perspectives

“preparation for participation in the world(p. 4)”
-aim for a good university or job
-standardized tests
I see a potential problem with ration and technical perspectives in the sense there is so much focus on meeting the standards and achieving the results rather than ensuring solid sound learning has been done.

*Interpretive/student centred
All students are individuals.
-recognize strengths and overcome weaknesses
-“active learning, self-motivation, reflective learning, shared goal setting and student choice”(p.7)
Problems can arise when students lack focus, motivation and willingness. How does one engage the unengaged?

-we must be educated so we can contribute to the world
-life experiences: specifically social and within the community
Educating students with a critical and transformative perspective is dependant upon community and availability to resources.
Clearly a combination of all three must be fostered to increase engagement for all individuals within the room. Everyone is different and therefore everyone will be engaged in different ways.
(See visual representations and images at the bottom of the page to support each perspective.)


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