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4 Student Engagement Strategies for College Courses

Updated: Jan 3

These four student engagement strategies can help you boost student engagement in your college course.

In 2022, low student engagement was cited as the most widespread problem teachers face, with 68% of instructors noting that it was a major problem. As an instructor, you’ve probably come face-to-face with this problem in your own courses. Without the proper strategies and tools to motivate students to participate and engage with course materials, it can be hard to know where to begin.

These four strategies can motivate students to actively engage with your course:

  1. Make your course personal and relevant.

  2. Use active learning tools.

  3. Implement a flipped classroom model.

  4. Gamify your course.

Some of these strategies require a significant investment of your time, and it can be hard to find the time to turn your teaching methods upside down. To make using these strategies more attainable, you can work with a service like Skyepack. Skyepack works with schools and instructors to develop high-quality, customized digital course content. These coursepacks can be tailored to the specific learning objectives, content, and teaching methods that will help you engage students.

One of the best ways to engage students is to go beyond what’s laid out in traditional textbooks and personalize your course to meet your students’ needs. Let’s get started!

1. Make your course personal and relevant.

Relying on one rigid resource like a textbook can make your course feel dull and impersonal to students. Students are more likely to engage with course materials that feel personal, relevant to the course, and designed to fit their learning needs. For instance, you might ask them to complete a workforce development course that is tailored to the job they plan to pursue after college.

Strive to add a personal touch to your course materials by stepping outside the box of a traditional physical textbook. To get started, you can create your own presentations, make explainer videos, and record and embed lecture presentations in course content. Not only does this add variety to the way content is delivered to students, but it also gives you more control over the focus of the content. Where a textbook might spend several pages on a topic that isn’t very important to your class, you can discuss it briefly in a recorded lecture and then move on.

How can instructors use this strategy?

Working with a service like Skyepack can help you apply this strategy to your curriculum. Skyepack’s expert team can help you assemble the materials that are most relevant to your course, helping you create a fully customized course package that aligns with your students' needs, unique testing requirements, and your expertise as an instructor. They also make it easy to embed videos and other multimedia resources into course materials so students can find everything from reading assignments to recorded lectures in one place.

Skyepack can also help you compile course materials that aren’t just pages from your textbook. Their team can help you track down open educational resources that are most relevant to your course so students don’t need to spend time parsing through content they don’t need to learn. Plus, these resources can be more up-to-date, meaning that they can better relate to students’ lives and experiences.

2. Use active learning tools.

A standard textbook or other text-based resources can be flat and dry, and students often find it difficult to motivate themselves to actually read the assigned content. However, using interactive learning tools in your class might be the motivation they need to dig into course materials.

Using technology in class can foster higher engagement rates by accommodating different learning styles, allowing for collaboration between students, and creating fun and engaging activities. Consider incorporating the following active learning tools into your curriculum:

  • In-class polling systems. These systems allow you to pose customized questions to your entire class and quickly gather responses from them. You can use the polling systems to take attendance or quiz students on the content they are learning in the last class. To gauge how effective your teaching methods are, run a poll asking students how they feel about assignments, homework, in-class activities, and test prep.

  • Learning apps. With learning apps like Duolingo, students can dig deeper and practice with the course material on their own. These apps usually contain short quizzes or writing activities, giving students the chance to actively participate in learning. They can also apply what they learn, giving them ample opportunities to master the content.

  • Interactive elements. Learning can’t happen exclusively through fun videos and activities—sometimes, students will need to do required reading to learn. When you assign reading, make the experience more engaging by incorporating interactive elements like knowledge checks, click-and-learn activities, or reflections about what they learned. This helps recapture their attention if they get distracted and ensure they are absorbing what they read.

How can instructors use this strategy?

These active learning tools engage students by giving them the chance to interact with their learning materials. With Skyepack, you can integrate interactive learning materials into your streamlined package of digital course materials, engaging students along the way.

3. Implement a flipped classroom model.

The flipped classroom model is a popular student engagement trend. In a flipped classroom, students review the materials they need to know before coming to class, and class time is used to field questions about the material and have students complete assignments that might otherwise be done outside of class. This way, instructors can make important clarifications and answer questions about assignments immediately.

Not only does this method maximize precious class time by reducing time spent lecturing, but it also has a positive impact on student engagement. About 90% of teachers who used the flipped classroom method noticed a positive change in student engagement. However, this strategy is only effective when designed properly.

The way this method is implemented and designed will make or break its success in your classroom. Here are some of the common mistakes instructors make when switching to a flipped classroom:

  • Materials are not accessible to all students. With textbooks and other paid learning services, some students may not be able to access the materials they need. While costs may seem reasonable, they can add up to a hefty bill when combined with students’ other classes. Avoid putting the materials students need to prepare for class behind a paywall.

  • Materials are disorganized. Some instructors make the mistake of listing the learning materials students need to reference before class in many different places. One might be linked in the course syllabus while another is in a folder in your learning management system. This can make students feel like they’re on a scavenger hunt to find the materials, and some might give up on looking over the content before class.

  • Materials are difficult to navigate. Some learning materials, while valuable, may be difficult for students to reference due to formatting issues. When instructors use scanned copies of print books, for instance, pages may be slanted, sections could be missing, and the font may be too small to view. This can be frustrating for students and make reading over course content much more time-consuming.

How can instructors use this strategy?

You can work with Skyepack to create custom course materials that make flipped learning easy and accessible to all of your students. With Skyepack, resources are grouped in one streamlined, easy-to-navigate location, making finding and using class materials simple. Plus, students can access content through web and mobile browsers as well as through Skyepack’s app so they can learn from anywhere.

4. Gamify your course.

While adding games to your course might sound like something that would work best in elementary school classrooms, competition can motivate learners of all ages. Adding gaming strategies to learning can increase students’ motivation, boost their knowledge retention, and improve engagement in the course.

To gamify your course, simply apply the elements of games (like points and achievements) to the learning activities your students already do. You can customize your approach based on the way your course is structured. If students need to learn how to apply what they learn, you can set up problem-solving challenges with rewards for the student or group that solves the problem first.

Another way to gamify learning is by tracking points and setting up leaderboards students can use to track their progress against other students. You might monitor each student’s progress in an online learning module, updating the leaderboard each week to reflect the points they won by engaging with course content. To motivate students to progress on the leaderboard, offer small prizes like candy or homework passes to those who complete the task first.

How can instructors use this strategy?

Skyepack allows you to track the data and analytics tied to your customized course materials, including which students are using which resources. You can collect these data points to create leaderboards or award points and badges to learners, encouraging them to continue regularly engaging with content. Not only does this make adding gaming elements to your teaching method simple, but you can frequently check in to see how often students tend to engage with your course overall.

Almost every instructor strives to have a class full of students who are totally engaged in their course. Making this a reality can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you need to choose a new teaching method or find ways to customize your curriculum. However, Skyepack is there to do the heavy lifting for you by developing high-quality digital course materials that are engaging and accessible to learners. To learn more about Skyepack, request a demo today!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to make learning more effective, check out these resources:

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