Engagement Theory

In the classroom

What does it mean to be engaged?

You will see students...

  • Paying attention (alert, tracking with their eyes)
  • Taking notes
  • Listening (as opposed to chatting, or sleeping)
  • Asking questions (content related, or in a game, like 21 questions or I-Spy)
  • Responding to questions (whole group, small group, four corners, etc. )
  • Following requests (participating, Total Physical Response (TPR), storytelling, Simon Says)
  • Reacting (laughing, crying, shouting, etc.)


You see students individually or in small groups...

  • Reading critically (with pen in hand)
  • Writing to learn, creating, planning, problem solving, discussing, debating, and asking questions
  • Performing/presenting, inquiring, exploring, explaining, evaluating, and experimenting
  • Interacting with other students, gesturing and moving

Things to consider:

  • What type of learner are you?
  • What interests you?

How to be Engaged:

"Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning!"

Seven Ways To Increase Student Engagement In The Classroom


  1. Use the 10:2 method. For every 10 minutes of instruction allow the students 2 minutes to process and respond to the instruction. This can be done in various ways by having them write what they have learned, questions they may have, or by discussing the content with a fellow student.
  2. Incorporate movement into your lessons. Require students to respond to a question by moving to a certain spot in the room, writing on whiteboards, or standing (or sitting) when they are done thinking about the question, etc.
  3. Pick up the pace. One misconception is that we must go slow for students to really understand and engage in a lesson. There is a lot of evidence that shows that when teaching is at a brisk instructional pace, students have more opportunities to engage, respond, and move on to the next concept (Carnine & Fink, 1978; Williams, 1993; Ernsbarger et al., 2001).
  4. Provide frequent and effective feedback.
  5. Allow students 5-7 seconds of ‘think time’ when asking a question. At the end of the time draw a random name to answer the question.
  6. At the end of a lesson have students use the 3-2-1 method of summarizing by having students record three things they learned, two interesting things, and one question they have about what was taught. Allow time to share their findings with a peer.
  7. Periodically pause mid-sentence when teaching requiring students to fill in the blanks.