Picture this: a quiet classroom. All students are seated facing front toward their teacher. None of them are disruptive, while the teacher is actively explaining and writing on the whiteboard.
Here’s the question: are these students “authentically” engaged, or merely “compliantly” engaged?
What is the difference?
Authentic engagement finds students actively listening and genuinely interested, even enjoying the subject or their task. After class, these students are more likely, not only to remember the information, but also to continue learning about the topic on their own.
Compliant engagement means doing tasks and meeting class requirements simply for the grade, or to avoid punishment. Students in compliant engagement only participate because they must, or are made to. This is also referred to as “strategic compliance” or dutiful engagement.
So how can you tell the difference between an actively-engaged student and a merely compliant one? Consider these questions:
1. Are students invited to bring their own experience
into the class discussion?
2. Are there clear expectations for active engagement?
3. Do students have choices of how they can engage in an activity?
4. Are mistakes valued as another opportunity to learn?
5. Do students have the chance to interact with each other?
6. Is the class environment and pedagogy equitable?
It is impossible to guarantee that applying the points outlined here will always result in active engagement, but research done by John Antonetti demonstrates that applying at least 3 of these points together have a tremendously positive effect on student learning.
As educators, we strive to achieve the balance between inspiring authentic engagement in young people and achieving the necessary compliance. For all of our students, their successful intellectual development depends upon it.
Did you find this article helpful? Could it be useful for someone you know? Forward it to a friend or colleague.
The classroom is only one place where your students have the opportunity to communicate, express, and reflect on their own experience.
Your Aimee page supercharges your ability to:
Got a few minutes to spare? Here are some very helpful methods for helping students who are off task and disengaged.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.