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Why is the active engagement technique important?
What is the active engagement technique in teaching and learning?
Active engagement is a certain variety of effective teaching/learning activities. This approach aims at the engagement of students with content in ways that help and develop abilities and build skills rather than emphasize only the acquisition of knowledge. Classes which engage students actively can be known by at least some of these characteristics:
- Students are involved in more than just listening and taking notes.
- Students are engaged in a variety of class activities, often with one another (discussing, reading, presenting, sharing their writing, etc.).
- Students are involved in higher-order thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation).
- Students reflect on their learning and their learning processes.
- Greater emphasis is placed on students' exploration of their own attitudes and values.
- Less emphasis is placed on transmitting information and more on developing students' skills.
active learning actually helps students retain more knowledge than some other traditional methods which focus only on the acquisition of facts. Students are more likely to understand, and remember material learned through active engagement in the learning process. Thus the evidence clearly suggests changing (or at least enhancing) the models that are so common in classrooms.
Active engagement means giving chances to students to talk, listen, write, read, and express their ideas, It is the umbrella that covers all other techniques and help them to have excellent effects upon the teaching and learning process.I do not expect any sucess in applying any technique or strategy without getting the students actively engaged.I do not expect any kind of progress in the teaching and learning process without students being engaged and envolved most of the time in their learning.In my school,in Egypt,I am totally aware of the importance of this magic blend of strategies that stimulate and attract students to work hard in order to achieve progress and success.
Lorain, (2002)says,"Learning is superficial until the learner is actively engaged. Teaching that emphasizes active engagement helps students process and retain information. It leads to self-questioning, deeper thinking, and problem solving.Engagement strategies like repetition, trial and error, and posing questions move the brain into active and constructive learning. And such activities can lead to higher student achievement. Teaching that emphasizes active engagement helps students process and retain information. It leads to self-questioning, deeper thinking, and problem solving. Find out where to begin and how to put your students on the path to higher achievement".
Why is it good for pupils to be actively engaged?
- They have longer concentration spans.
- They complete work on time.
- They stay on-task.
- They have few behaviour problems.
- They have a good attendance record.
- They develop higher self-esteem.
- They make faster progress.
- The develop a belief in their ability to improve and learn.
- They encourage and help other pupils.
- They work collaboratively.
"Preparing classes that actively engage students requires a lot of planning. First, the teacher must prepare the lecture or other type of instruction. Then, he or she must select learning activities that support the content of the instruction and engage students.
To engage students, the teacher must do more than lecture. While teaching the concepts and skills, the teacher must help students draw on their own experiences to build a "scaffold" on which they can "hang" new ideas. When students are actively engaged, they focus on what is being taught and understand new information easily and relate it to what they have learned before.
Because the most effective teaching takes place in "chunks," it's best to teach new information or concepts in 7- to 10-minute segments followed by a processing activity.After teaching several segments, the teacher can use a longer processing activity. This activity should be tied tightly to the concepts or skills previously taught so that it builds understanding"(Lorain,2002).Teachers and learners are active participants in the learning process; knowledge is not "delivered" to students, but emerges from active dialogue among those who seek to understand and apply concepts and techniques. . The quote from is provided not as instruction but in acknowledgement of the context for current teaching practices. In trying to get some students to learn in this context the engagement issues are about getting students to acknowledge their part in the process.
For the sake of engagement getting meaningful dialogue going between teacher and student is worth all of the hard work that is usually necessary. Dialogue in this case means students feeling that their opinions matter, that they can input into the teaching process and that they can offer critical opinion on the teaching and learning.
Personally I like to use a range of methods to gather opinion such as questioning.I like to ask students about their interests and hobbies to get their attention and participation.Whatever methods are used, it is important to follow up on any promised action points otherwise the dialogue will break down due to mistrust.
In recognizing that student perception impacts on their learning then it is understandable that this will give rise to behavioural issues. In heading off behavioural issues teachers will need to think carefully about their relationship with each student in their class.This will not be easy when race, gender, ability, class, family life, peer relationships, relationships with authority figures and relationships with those outside of the student's peer group can all be factors behind behaviour issues.In managing classroom relationships teachers can put problem solving tasks to students in a way that lessens their discomfort. Students who understand what is expected of them, see the task as meaningful and feel as confident as possible that they have the skills to meet challenging demands are less likely to present behavior problems.
In term of engagement emotional issues refer to student's attitude towards the information being presented to them: obviously there opinions can be set out on a 'like it' or 'don't like it' axis. If ideas on flow is accepted then the aim for teachers is to shift students from the don't like emotion to the point at which their attention is focused on the learning stimuli. If this focus is maintained then it is possible for students toachieve the realization that it is their own powers that is important in this aspect.
Anyone who's completed their teacher training would have come across Bloom's Taxonomy. I mention it here to draw attention to his assertion that learning at the higher cognitive levels is important if true learning is to be achieved. Bloom(1976) indicates that." higher cognitive demand is mostly required."
Creating engagement in schools is so important. It has its own strategies which should take place in order to make sure that the students are actively engaged in their learning. I apply most of these strategies in my classes in Egypt. Principles for creating engagement are:
Activating prior knowledge
I always use this technique, especially at the very beginning of anew lesson To build upon what the students already know.
The teacher should challenge from one hand his students' minds all the time to raise their interest and understanding and from the other hand to build their skills.
Cooperative group work
When pupils work together, they share their knowledge, ideas and perspectives and arrive at a fuller understanding than they might have done working alone.
Metacognition is thinking about thinking. It is the ability to stand back fro m a difficult task to consider how it should be done.
Modes of representing information
The brain is forced to work hard when it has to convert information from one mode to another. This could before example, from diagrammatic form to a text. I sometimes do this in my classes with the high attainder to challenge their minds as mentioned before.
They are structures that guide and support thinking.Complex tasks such as problem solving and extended writing make great demands on the novice.there are a lot of things to do at a time.Scaffolds help by focusing on thing at a time, thus reducing the demands on the pupil's working memory. I apply this strategy when I explain difficult grammar in my class. I divide the lesson into small doses. I give them to the pupils carefully and gradually.
Deep and surface learning
"Some pupils become good, motivated learners; others don't-and many pupils behave differently in different subjects and with different teachers. These differences arise partly from what the learner brings to the classroom(in intelligence,background,prior knowledge, attitudes, skills and interests).They are also the result of what the learner experiences in the classroom. 'Deep' and 'surface' approaches to learning describe the extremes of learning experience. Deep learning is the consequence of teachers using strategies which accord with the principles of engagement described above. Pedagogy and Practice:( Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools. Unit 11: Active engagement techniques, (2004).
School is central to the daily life of many youths. They view schooling as essential to their long-term wellbeing. These students tend to have good relations with school staff and with other students-they feel that they belong at school. However, some youth do not share this sense of belonging, and do not believe that academic success will have a strong impact on their future. These feelings and attitudes may result in their becoming disaffected from school(Finn,1989;Jenkins,1995).They may gradually withdraw from school activities, and in some cases take part indisruptive behaviour and display negative attitudes towards teachers and other students. This what happens in my school in Egypt. I try all the time to involve these students in class activities. I also try to attract them by sharing them their hobbies and interests. Meeting the needs of the students who have become disaffected from school is perhaps the biggest challenge facing teachers and school administrators.
Preachers have recently used the term engagement to refer to the extent to which students identify with and value schooling outcomes, and participate in academic and non-academic school activities. Its definition usually comprises a psychological component pertaining to students' sense of belonging at school and acceptance of school values, and a behavioural component pertaining to participation in school activities (Finn 1989).As an accomplished teacher I do my best all the time in my school in Egypt to bear in mind the psychological and behavioural components in dealing with my students. Eye contact with some students is enough to keep them quiet during explaining the lessons, Others should be rebuked more than once to behave themselves.
Bloom(1976)states That:"at the other extreme are the bottom third of students who have been given consistent evidence of their inadequacy...over a period of five to ten years. Such students rarely secure any positive reinforcement in the classroom...from teachers or parents. We would expect such students to be infected with emotional difficulties [and to] exhibit symptoms of acute distress and alienation from the world of school and adults."
Pupils are engaged in deep learning when:
- they are trying to understand make sense of material;
- they are relating ideas and information to previous knowledge and experience;
- they are not accepting new information uncritically;
- they are using organizing principles to integrate ideas;
- they are relating evidence to conclusion;
- they are examining the logic of arguments.
When students are merely reproducing or memorizing given facts and information; accepting ideas and information passively; not being required to look for principles or patterns or to reflect on goals and progress-then they are only engaged in surface learning. The role of the teacher is crucial in engaging pupils in constructive, deep learning.
In summary, when students are actively engaged in their learning, they are processing and retaining information and using higher order thinking. When teachers design activities that promote active engagement, they are reinforcing student learning, keeping students interested and on task, and making learning relevant and fun. Remember, young adolescents want to do things and will do things. Capitalize on that in ways that reinforce their learning.Active engagement can be done all the time in schools through different techniques and strategies such as; groupwork, questioning, modelling, explaining....etc.
- Bloom. (1976)Human characteristics and school learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Department for Education and Skills (2004) Pedagogy and Practice: Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools. Unit 11: Active engagement techniques. Norwich: HMSO.
- Finn. (1998) Withdrawing from school. review of Educational Research 59(2):117-42
- Jenkins, P.H.(1995)School delinquency and school commitment.sociology of Education 68 (July):221-39
- Willms , J.D.(2003)Student Engagement at School,Paris,ISBN,PP8-9
- Lorain,P.(2002)Teaching That Emphasizes Active Engagement, available from http://www.nea.org/tools/16708.htm accessed on 23/1/2010.