The term student engagement is becoming increasingly prevalent in Higher Education circles, but what does it look like? Why is it so important? And where are we currently going wrong?
Student engagement in real life
More often than not, student engagement is discussed in the vague language of numbers and statistics. It’s prioritised to tick a box or reach a finish line. But what does it look like in real life?
Student engagement can typically be separated into three categories: behavioural, emotional and cognitive engagement. These cover everything from attending lectures and showing a genuine interest in studies, to partaking in social activities outside the lecture hall. Positive engagement across all three fields is constructive to University life. This, in turn, has a positive impact on the student’s own well being. Negative engagement, however, can be detrimental to the student’s experience. And their University’s performance could suffer.
The importance of engaging students
When a University’s performance is reliant on student engagement, it’s easy to see why it’s a priority. Students who aren’t engaged with their course are far more likely to drop out, costing their institution valuable time, resources and money. And even for the students who do complete their course: a lack of engagement is likely to result in decreased performance. This can reflect badly on their course and campus life as a whole.
The minimum financial loss of a first year drop out £18,500, but the real cost if much more. When students aren’t engaged, it means that they’re unhappy, whether this be with their course, their social life or their University as a whole. Universities spend thousand of pounds on student services, from careers advice to welfare support, and yet engagement with these services is comparatively low. Not for lack of trying, Universities are in some way failing to meet their student’s needs. This simply cannot be allowed to happen in a society where student mental health is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue. Students rely on their University not only for academic success but for welfare support too. Doing the upmost to improve engagement with support is vital.
So, what can be done?
In a world where young people communicate primarily through their phones, it just isn’t reasonable to expect them to come forward and ask for help in a face to face setting they find uncomfortable. In the face of this disconnect, the key to engaging students is to communicate with them in a way that they understand. The answer? Technology.
At tyfy.co our online peer mentoring system brings students together in a way that promotes engagement on behalf of all participants. By matching students together online, we take away all the unnecessary awkwardness of traditional peer mentoring schemes. Moreover, by incentivising the mentoring process, we give students a reason to participate. Younger students are encouraged to engage with their studies, and older students are supported in preparing for life after University.
All of this, then, doesn’t just mean that students are better engaged or more academically successful. Allowing students to communicate on their own terms means they’re more likely to access help. Crucially, University supported is noticed and utilised. A connected campus is a more engaged campus, and every students deserves the chance to be a part of one.