Review: Learning Engagement

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Definitions of Learning Engagement

  • Engaged students make a psychological investment in learning. They try hard to learn what school offers. They take pride not simply in earning the formal indicators of success (grades), but in understanding the material and incorporating or internalizing it in their lives [1].
  • In learning and teaching, student engagement is both a route to success and an outcome of excellent teaching [2].
  • Learning engagement is the ability to motivationally and behaviorally engage in an effective learning process [3].
  • 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 [4].


Categories and types of Learning Engagement

  • Different Types of Engagement:
    • Emotional: Student attitude ranges from liking what they’re doing in class to deeply valuing learning and skills they are gaining.
    • Cognitive: Students use strategies such as metacognition for deep learning.
    • Intellectual: Lessons, assignments, or projects that appeal to student interests or that stimulate their curiosity and give students more choice over the topics that specifically interest them.
    • Behavioral: By introducing variation into a classroom routine, teachers can reduce the monotony and potential disengagement that may occur when students sit in the same seat, doing similar tasks, for extended periods of time.
    • Physical: Teachers may use physical activities or routines to stimulate learning or interest.
    • Social: Use a variety of strategies to stimulate engagement through social interactions. For example, students may be paired or grouped to work collaboratively on projects.
    • Cultural: Feel welcomed, accepted, safe, and valued.
  • Different Levels of Engagement:
    • Engagement: Students take ownership through active and authentic learning strategies based on their needs and goals along with having voice and choice in their tasks.
    • Active Compliance: Students participate in learning and complete performance tasks.
    • Compliance: Students complete work that is given to them. The tasks are routine and/or rote.


Common Characteristic of Learning Engagement

  • Show sustained behavioral involvement in learning activities
  • Display a positive emotional tone, and are enthusiastic about their learning endeavor
  • Seek out help, whether inside or outside the course, to achieve learning goals
  • Are naturally more curious and interested than unengaged students
  • Exert their best effort and concentrate effectively when completing tasks
  • Energized, self-motivated, and goal-driven
  • Enjoy and respond well to challenges
  • Take pride not only in good grades, but in understanding the material and incorporating it in their lives
  • Display a ‘can do’ mentality and thus take pride on completing the course
  • Show commitment to revisit work to improve it, or stick with a problem until it was solved.
  • engaged students are interested in the material.
  • believe that they are in control of their destiny and attribute success and failure to internal factors
  • Students are more likely to progress through a program if they have a strong support system at home and school


Learning Engagement Consideration

  • Make it meaningful
  • Foster a sense of competence
  • Provide autonomy support
  • Embrace collaborative learning
  • Establish positive teacher-student relationship
  • Promote mastery orientations



  • Research has demonstrated that engaging students in the learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills and promotes meaningful learning experiences [9].
  • Consider the environment and platform used.
  • Either is a traditional face to face, mobile or web platform?
  • Is the learning activity conducted at modern and well equipped facilities?
  • Good instructional design is important to help fostering student engagement [10].



[1] Student Engagement and Achievement in American Secondary Schools. Newmann, Fred M., Ed. 1992.
[2] The University of Edinburgh, UK
[3] SUNY Empire State College, US
[4] Student Engagement.
[5] Identifying Types and Levels of Student Engagement.
[6] The eLearning Dilemma. Engaged Learners vs Disengaged Learners.
[7] 3 Characteristics of Student Engagement.
[8] Golden Rules for Engaging Students in Learning Activities By Nicolás Pino-James.
[9] University of Washington, US
[10] Betul C. Czerkawski1 & Eugene W. Lyman III 2. An Instructional Design Framework for Fostering Student Engagement in Online Learning Environments. TechTrends (2016)