Students’ experiences of teaching at secondary school and university: sharing responsibility for classroom engagement

2016-11-22T14:25:46Z (GMT) by Breda O'Brien Paola Iannone
In recent years much research has focused on student engagement, both at school and at university level. This attention is motivated by the pivotal role that engagement plays in student learning and in the student experience and retention (at university level at least). Acknowledging that student engagement is a multifaceted construct we focus on the contribution that teaching and teacher traits make to the quality of student engagement, from the student’s perspective. In this small scale study we adopt a qualitative methodology to investigate in-depth students’ perceptions of what factors impact on their engagement in class and what role the students themselves have in fostering such engagement. Focus group and one to one interviews with students in the last year of school and at university were analysed to reveal four overarching themes related to classroom life and student engagement including the importance of active listening from the part of both students and teachers. The Refined Quality Teaching Initiatives Framework derived from integrating findings from this study and our review of the literature outlines how dual engagement and active listening can be viable pedagogical strategies both at school and university level. The framework also brings to the fore the active role and responsibilities that students have, in their own perceptions, for engagement in the classroom. We conclude with a reflection on the implications of our findings for teacher actions in the classroom and teacher training.