Rules of Engagement

Well, they’re not really rules. More like findings.

Kristy Cooper, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, conducted a study of high school students to determine teaching characteristics that elicit student engagement.

Through her research, she found there were three teaching practices that had the greatest impact on student engagement, namely,

  1. connective instruction – providing an emotional connection to the teacher, the content and the instruction
  2. academic rigor – providing challenging work
  3. lively teaching – integrate learning activities where the students is at the center of the activities (lots of collaboration and communication)

Hands down, Cooper found that connective instruction – teaching that focused on connecting students to the teacher, the content and the instruction – had the greatest impact on student engagement.

Surprised? I’m not.

Learners crave relevance. They also crave connection. And they seek in-person, real-time opportunities to share what they know, to get feedback, and to ask questions when they’re stuck.

That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that students are more successful in online learning experiences that include opportunities to learn with and from peers and that offer alternatives to lecture format.

What does surprise me is when we fail to realize the importance of connecting and the social aspect of learning and, instead, berate learners when they fail to complete lecture-based online courses that offer little to no opportunities to connect with peers or to actively engage in the learning experience.

I guess “rules of engagement” really is an apt title for this post, since these are the rules of engagement online providers will have to acknowledge and respond to if they hope to increase online course completion rates.

What do you think?