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Student engagement is an activity that has to be promoted through all academic facilities. As a rule, leaders take responsibility for the way of how student interest in learning can be developed. Sometimes, leaders and teachers try to encourage active learning among their students. In some classrooms, contact and cooperation between students are appreciated. All these approaches can be defined as good practices in higher education to promote student engagement.
The list of such practices varies at different colleges, depending on the abilities of leaders and the readiness of students. In this part of the work, attention to the strategies with the help of which it is possible to improve student engagement will be paid through the analysis of the information obtained from an interview with the dean of one of the local schools of business.
Importance of Data Gathering
Today, there are many academic and public sources where people discuss the importance of student engagement and existing practices with the help of which student interest in learning can be raised. However, the theoretical background is not always as effective as personal observations and experience. Therefore, to understand better what kind of work can be done to find good students and organize the work of teachers in a proper way, the evaluation of local schools and communication with leaders can be used. To prepare this paper, an interview with a local school’s education leader was developed. This choice can be explained by this person’s direct participation in student engagement improvement and the ability to understand what strategies can be effective in specific conditions.
Student Engagement Instructional Practices
The positive achievements of students prove the success of the work done by educational leaders. Yearwood and Jones (2012) say that students may benefit from educational environments only if they are engaged in good practices.
Therefore, educational leaders have to promote the creation of good and helpful environments in case they want their students to demonstrate good results. It is not enough for a leader to establish the goals, inform all stakeholders of a learning process about the expected results, and check how each participant completes the tasks. Motivation, inspiration, and support have to be integral parts of a leadership process. The theory and practice may differ in the real world. Communication with a real leader who develops personal skills and contributes to professional growth helps to make clear conclusions.
At the chosen site, the leader admits that higher education has a number of peculiarities that cannot be neglected. First, any leader has to understand that a college education is closely connected with future careers chosen by students. Therefore, the task is not to make students follow certain rules and meet expectations but to guide students on how to develop the chosen professional skills meeting the standards of a facility. Therefore, such approaches as considering time while completing tasks and meeting deadlines, respect diverse techniques and talents and communicate high expectations may be rather helpful in the work of a leader.
Another important practice with the help of which student engagement can be achieved is based on the direct participation of students in classroom discussions and activities. The main feature of this kind of work is to explain to students that their participation is not an obligation that cannot be avoided but an initiative that has to be encouraged. Students should be eager to share their opinions, demonstrate their skills, and improve their knowledge by interacting with faculty members and each other.
During an interview, it was discovered that, in the chosen region, some academic facilities introduce special college orientation programs and learning communities. Potential students may come and define the worth of their education in the future, and current students are able to discover their options and use the alternatives, if any.
The interviewed dean introduced an interesting idea of effective educational leadership. A leader should be able to engage students through giving clear orders and instructions but introduce all these requirements in a way students can never guess that they are guided. Modern students want to believe that they are the only ones who make final decisions and take responsibility for their future.
Parents, teachers, and academic administrators have to offer options and opportunities, and students should consider their personal interests in order to take another step. In other words, the main insight of the current practices for educational leaders to engage students is to guide so that students can never guess that they are guided by someone. Leaders should stay invisible guardian angels for teachers who should build up effective teaching practices and for students who should focus on the development of personal skills and independent decision-making.
Current practices are usually based on expectations. As soon as society expects more from students, parents, teachers, and leaders, there is a chance to get more from an educational process in general (McCarthy & Kuh, 2006). Classroom management, instructional practices, and learning activities should never stagnate. Leaders have to develop them, students should follow them, and teachers must think about the methods on how to combine the tasks of leaders with the abilities of students.
In their turn, leaders should realize how much work each stakeholder of a learning process has to complete. Therefore, the dean explains that a leader must evaluate a situation from three different perspectives – the teacher’s, student’s, and their own – and make sure that each side is ready to participate in student engagement activities.
Taking into consideration the results of communication with the dean of the local business school and the literature review, several primary practices to promote student engagement can be offered. First, leaders and teachers should enhance student’s self-belief in personal skills and abilities (Howard-Hamilton, Marbley, & Booner, 2011). Second, students should be inspired to work independently, enjoying their options and freedoms without even notices that they are actually guided by professionals. Finally, an appropriate learning environment has to be developed for both teachers and students so that all of them can demonstrate their skills.
To conclude, it is not enough to say that a good educational leader is always aware of the practices and steps that should be taken to promote student engagement and successful achievement. A leader has to work hard and compare multiple practices to clarify which approach is appropriate to a particular learning environment. Some students may need additional help and support to demonstrate positive achievements in education. Some students may want to be provided with freedoms and options to understand what kind of work they can do. Despite this variety, student engagement primary practices should be based on respect, trust, and support.
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Howard-Hamilton, M. F., Marbley, A. F., & Booner, F. A. (Eds.). (2011). Diverse millennial students in college: Implications for faculty and student affairs. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
McCarthy, M., & Kuh, G. D. (2006). Are students ready for college? What student engagement data say. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(9), 664-669.
Yearwood, T. L., Jones, E. A. (2012). Understanding what influences successful black commuter students’ engagement in college. The Journal of General Education, 61(2), 97-125.