How engaged is engaged?

Over the weekend I encountered two infographics on Twitter that related to a conversation I had with Mrs. Cantor on Friday about some of the theoretical models we’re looking at to help us with our one-to-one rollout, including SAMR, TPACK, LoTI, HEAT, yadda, yadda, and yadda. On their own these models (on technology integration, twenty-first century learning, engaged instruction, etc.) might look good and make sense. However in a larger context, a real-world one, they do not necessarily play well together. Central in our discussion was the role of engagement, which is, be definition, a big concept. You’ve no doubt heard from a lot of us that we want engaged students in our schools. Dr. Geyer has shared with me that this is a two-part construct: it’s developed through our relationships with students and also the design of instruction to be actually, engaging.

One of the best-known names in the field of student engagement is Phillip Schlechty. Both Dr. Gretz and Dr. Geyer and I have consulted his work before, for instance, when developing the walk-through look-fors for student engagement. But I like even more Schlechty’s distinctions of 5 levels of student engagement.

Levels of Student Engagement

This infographic by Dr. Rios is more comprehensive, and goes further to distinguish what an “engaged classroom” might look like, with a mixture of students at different engagement levels. I like that and know that is realistic. Anytime we attempt to think about “taking a temperature reading” for engagement, it’s one moment in time, and is a result not only of the content of a lesson, the relationship teachers have with students, but also the well-being of a student, their emotional state, and their level of anxiety (or interest in) the current activity. Furthermore, we cannot be fooled that engagement is a behavioral construct alone. To really try and measure engagement might be a foolhardy pursuit, when it is, at heart, a metacognitive state. I do think we can work with students to be mindful of being engaged, to recognize what it’s like when you’re engaged, and try and maximize the opportunities to foster engagement. We can do a lot to develop positive relationships with learners and designing instruction, for me, is all about personalization. I’ll save that for a future post.

But I did like the labels and created the above graphic to make these distinctions more clear. How might we describe the engagement levels of some of our students? Are they interested? Committed? Where is their attention?