Engagement Strategies

We’ll look at engagement in three ways: Student-Content, Student-Student and Student-Faculty/Instructor. These three forms of interaction don’t happen spontaneously. They require planning, intention, and instructional design. Click on the links below to learn more. 

Model describing student-content, student-student and student-instructor

Faculty provide active learning experiences for students and consider opportunities for student reflection of their learning.

the five recommendations detailed below

Make the course relevant: Students want courses to be relevant and meaningful. Use real-world examples to teach; where the course is relevant to a specific occupation, ensure it is aligned with the current needs of the occupation.

Integrated curriculum: Combine disciplines rather than compartmentalizing subjects. Some medical schools, for example, have moved away from teaching subjects in isolation such as physiology and anatomy, and moved toward studying organ systems where students learn the physiology and anatomy associated with that system.

Authentic learning experiences: Students tackle real-world problems and attempt to come up with a solution through methods such as inquiry and experimentation. Ideally, the solution will benefit others or the community. Experiential learning—when students learn from reflecting on their real-world learning experience—is a further development of this, and is an effective teaching strategy. Assess early and often for formative. Problem-based/project-based learning: Students are tasked with solving a problem or completing a project, but the focus is on the end product, allowing students to determine what resources are needed to solve the problem or complete the project.

Social media: Potential uses for social media include sharing relevant content, posting instructional videos on YouTube and facilitating ongoing discussion groups. However, strict guidelines for use must be put in place and enforced. (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram…)

Active Learning: leads to deeper learning and ties to higher order cognitive skills in Blooms Taxonomy and achievement of your learning outcomes. View our curated collection of active learning strategies

Consider reflection and writing assignments to keep students engaged in class as well as improve thinking skills.

Faculty structure the course for interaction opportunities and make it clear to students how they should interact with each other. Focus student engagement using discussion questions, tasks, activities or resources to explore together. 

When students interact with each other, they feel like they are part of a learning community. Interaction also helps students engage in collaboration, students brainstorm, deliberate, disagree, compromise, and achieve consensus—all ways of thinking that are difficult to do singly. This enables students to “compare their current understandings with those of other team members. . .construct new understandings”. (Brame, 2020) Small group work can facilitate reflection and mirror the workplace. 

Using Discussion Boards for Engagement:

  • Create a sense of community by encouraging and guiding students to introduce themselves.
  • Faculty comments/feedback/input is critical for students to stay engaged.
  • To encourage critical thinking, ask students to post before seeing replies, which has students refine their own thoughts before seeing the discussion thread.
  • To continue engagement in discussion boards consider assigning reflective statements where students detail their contributions and reflect on what they learned from the conversation.


A curated idea is “Save the Last Word for Me” where faculty wrap up/close a discussion thread by summarizing/commenting on how the discussion contributed to the learning/course content. 

Find the technology step by step instructions for:

Creating Learning Groups in the LMS

Creating a Discussion Board

Using Breakout Groups in Teams

Using Breakout Groups in Collaborate

Faculty create a framework for how they will establish and maintain presence and interact with students during the learning experience.

A curated CATL idea is “Prof’s Industry Moment of the Week”. In an onsite/virtual class you can use time to add in just in time content during your class. Examples could include a news article, LinkedIn post, research, Twitter post, article or newly released journal/book. 

Consider adding your moment materials to an online course or asynchronous learning experience. Use your communication channel(s) such as LMS announcements, course discussion boards, email, video added to your content/communication. 

Additional ideas:

  • Provide a faculty bio/introduction. Add a photo/video in your course on the LMS. Consider adding a personal element to humanize your bio. Some faculty are adding links to their LinkedIn profile, blog or podcast. 
  • Host open or by appointment office hours.
  • If virtual enable your webcam/video so students can see you or modify settings to add your profile picture. 
  • Be proactive and send question and answer reply to all students/post in the discussion board for common questions to be efficient and establish presence.
  • Provide quality, timely feedback to establish your presence in the course, can enhance with audio or video.
  • Explore using video. Post a video introduction, short announcements, short video lectures and introductions and/or feedback for assignments. Keep videos short, ideally maximum chunks of 10 minutes. Enable closed captioning for accessibility.