Motivated to Engage – and Succeed | Edcor

Motivated to Engage – and Succeed

Provided by DeVry University

Meet Dr. George Kuh, who basically wrote the book on student success. One of the key conditions his book, Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter, covers is student engagement. “Engagement is about being accessible and present in the moment with regard to the experience you’re having, and key in terms of motivation tied to the learning experience,” Kuh says, because “…students learn something they may not have otherwise, and find meaning and relevance in it.”

Kuh has been studying and innovating in the field of student engagement since well before the phrase was coined in academic circles. “The more engaged a learner is, the more they benefit in a variety of ways: conscientiousness, self-reflection, and being able to interact effectively with people from different backgrounds. These are things universities don’t offer as majors, but every field of practice is going to require those kinds of behaviors to be effective.”

Using Technology to Inspire

“Today, student engagement isn’t just about how students spend their time, it’s about what institutions are doing from their side,” says Kuh. As one example, DeVry University leverages technology in the form of the Inspire tool to engage students in a positive way by delivering prompts.

“Prompts are useful, but students will ignore them if they don’t feel a connection to the person or entity doing the prompting,” Kuh says. Recognizing this, university faculty and a student care team of advisors back up the automated system. True engagement requires a host of conditions and must be backed up by action and sincerity. Kuh explains, “We’re all more likely to listen to someone we trust, who is authentically accessible, and interested in my success…. when we reflect on our own experience, these are critical factors in our life.”

Peer Pressure, the Good Kind

Though it is often thought of in a negative sense, peer pressure can be beneficial, too. “There is a longstanding thread in higher education research that shows peers are the most important influence group on a college campus,” Kuh says. “They influence how students spend their time, what classes to take, etc.” For instance, “When faculty can organize an out-of-class experience to take advantage of the peer effect, it’s a long-term benefit.”

Another effective way to build student engagement is to create space for it through a range of opportunities and activities. “When classes are structured so students interact with each other and the world outside the classroom, it puts students in situations where they’re expected to apply their education,” Kuh says.

And applying what we learn is a key benefit of education and engagement.

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