So, do we really understand student engagement?

You will see in our space, the big wide world of education, that more and more is being focussed on “student engagement”, and first we have to have a look at what it is, before we can understand it, and why does it even matter?

Well, the worldwide web, or more specifically define it as:

In education, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.

student engagement

Which makes sense. It also makes sense that you’d want to maximize engagement, right? This seems like a given. However, with education now having such an online presence. Taking courses online is a norm now for many, especially in Higher Ed and beyond.

Does that change what we would define engagement as?

It doesn’t change the definition, but it certainly changes the data points you need to look at to assess and understand this. Which begs the question; what are the things we should be looking at and how should be measure and take action on them?

I recently read a post over on the D2L blog; How to Make Decisions Based on Student Data which actually prompted me to write this post, and I’ll tell you why.

They cite:

“…log-in data, what pages they’re clicking on, how many times they clicked, how long they’re on a page and when they leave a page.”

As data points to capture to help us understand student engagement, which I would not say is wrong, more that it is rather vague. Historically, the way in which analytics has been done, or understood in many cases for education is; the more a student does something the most likely they are to succeed.

That is something that I have an issue with. Not because it’s never true, but it’s completely dependant on so many other factors. All of those factors are linked to that student and not to a general theory across all students.

Individual, personalized analytics…

This is why, when we talk about engagement, or just about analytics in general, it’s imperative that your systems provide you data that is accurate on an individual student basis. When emotuit analyzes student data, we look for patterns in that individuals behaviour, understanding that student at the personal level. Then adding the fact that we know how they’re responding to something emotionally, too, it allows us to ask the question; Is this an irregular response from this student? This allows us to really understand student responses, and in turn help you understand them.