Revisiting Learning Design – How do we engage, challenge and support student learning?

Engagement could be described in two ways, compliance engagement and deep engagement. According to David Price (Learning Futures Engaging Students, 2010) deep engagement encompasses the following:

• Cares not just about the outcome, but also the development of their learning
• Takes responsibility for their learning
• Brings discretionary energy to their learning task(s)
• Can locate the value of their learning beyond school and wishes to prolong their learning beyond school hours.
How many of us have students at the compliance end of the engagement continuum and how many do we have at the deep end? More importantly how do we currently try to move them towards the deep end?

Is every student challenged to reach his/her personal best or just those who ‘do’ school well? We have a professional responsibility to push, extend and support ALL students no matter how hard this might be at times.

How do we stretch our students? This is not easy when in one class we might face levels of ability ranging from reception to year 8 (this is not an exaggeration if you consider Paul’s current class). Challenging and supporting all students is a challenge we face daily.

Engage Challenge & Support

 

2 thoughts on “Revisiting Learning Design – How do we engage, challenge and support student learning?

  1. Obviously at the bottom end of the spectrum for this whole philosophy is the teacher centred delivery with large amount of verbal instruction time. The goal we are all aspiring to is student led, flexible learning with negotiated outcomes.

    This year I feel as though the more I increase student autonomy the lower the outcomes are. Short responses at a comprehension level are fine but any attempt to move students into the ‘deep’ sees them down tools. This would indicate that engagement, relationships (student/teacher), choice and above all relevance are are low in my class. I find it frustrating when we get told what to teach, how to teach and even have site policies set by politicians and then asked to raise student engagement.

    Try moving students towards deep engagement while ripping into the study of Indian rivers. If we are serious about modelling learning we should consider really putting free choice and autonomy back on the table and revisit those personal learning groups (sorry, have forgotten the site specific name) that Broughton have taken on and off the table over the years. That would at least give teachers an opportunity to unpack with students what elements of their learning led to them being successful.

    • No doubt it is difficult to engage all students to a high (or even a low) level all the time. You make a good point about Indian Rivers and trying to develop engagement and encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Our old Extension Studies courses did allow for students to have choice and engage in a learning area they enjoyed. Unfortunately we have content that is required to be taught and it is up to us to try and be creative about how we present this and raise engagement levels. Paul’s Year 5/6 class have just finished studying “Disasters”, admittedly more engaging than Indian Rivers. What helped make this unit engaging:
      1. Students had a choice of how many students they worked with or could work individually on the major project.
      2. Students could choose any disaster to work on.
      3. Students had the option to create a 3D model creating deeper learning than just writing.
      4. Students had formal presentations to the class and work was exhibited at assembly – maybe this increased engagement?

      We may not be able to engage all students all the time and to get to the deep engagement is very difficult. This is why we must continue to develop our pedagogy in these areas.

      You mentioned that the more you increase student autonomy the lower the outcomes are. I would argue that we rarely give students autonomy and that when they are given it they struggle because they have little genuine experience to draw on. This is a catch 22 because teachers see student lead learning as ‘failing’ because they couldn’t cope. So instead of giving them more opportunities and scaffolding so they can learn we revert to structured teacher directed lessons. When students get the opportunity again in 6 months time to lead their own learning the cycle of “that didn’t work, lets go back to what does” happens again.
      By the way I am not suggesting that teacher lead classes are worse than student lead learning. Both are very important and have their place in our teaching repertoire.

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