Student engagement is the level of enthusiasm and interest students have in what they are learning. Students may be engaged on intellectual, emotional, physical and social levels.
Many research studies have revealed connections between non-cognitive factors (such as motivation, curiosity, and responsibility), improved academic performance and higher-order thinking. Engaged students perform better in school. Engagement also increases the likelihood of:
- Higher involvement with school activities
- Better attendance
- Reduced dropouts
- Less class disruption
Engagement is widely accepted as a core academic goal. To achieve this goal it must be a key program element in educational design.
The SmartLab Approach
When we talk to our partner schools about the value of the program, the word that keeps coming back over and over is engagement. SmartLabs engage learners like no place else in school.
Student achievement in the SmartLab begins with engagement. We surround learners with leading-edge technologies, support them with great learning resources, and empower them to shape their own learning. As a result, learners are intrinsically motivated as they explore questions connected to their own interests and abilities. In a SmartLab, the teacher is a Facilitator and students take responsibility for their learning.
Engaged learners are motivated learners. Engaged learners naturally employ higher-order thinking skills to their projects. Intrinsic motivation and critical-thinking are the core building blocks for achievement in the SmartLab.
The benefits of student engagement are supported by research. A survey of SmartLab students compared their feelings about the program to a national Gallup poll. Students in SmartLabs reported being far less bored and are far more likely to feel interested, challenged and excited than in school overall.
“The majority of the students who enter a SmartLab leave every day because they have to, not because they want to.”
—Bill Gilmore, District STEM Coordinator & Facilitator, Englewood Schools