Discussing current news and events is perhaps one of the best ways to engage students in class.
FREMONT, CA: Any teacher who has taught a class full of first-year college students knows how student engagement in the classroom unfolds. It's hard to forget the eagerness and uncertainty of the semester's opening weeks when freshman learners raised their hands and paid attention. With college life's rhythms and repetitions, students become depressingly capable: of knowing when to reserve energy, skip reading assignments, and refrain from participating. A few disengaged students can create a class-wide sense of lethargy, and inaction is often contagious among college students. The lack of engagement and complacency in any classroom directly threatens its well-being. Classroom disruption and introducing something "new" will elicit the students' engagement.
Redefine student space
Despite the instructor's best efforts, students, acting out patterns learned in grammar and high school, generally claim an "assigned seat" if left to their own devices. Students can approach course content and discussion from a fixed vantage point with a similar desk layout from class to class. Shifting seats is a good idea whenever possible. Grouping students for appropriate assignments may require new configurations. Instructors ask students to consider course content from a different perspective by disrupting their usual approach to learning.
Teamwork among students
Human brains are limited in their ability to focus for a certain period. Long-winded lectures should be discouraged. Learning can occur without teaching in student-centric activities, and, more importantly, students become content creators. Group work can put students in an inarguable position of responsibility, even if they resist group work. Eventually, being complacent will no longer be an option.
Relatable current events to engage students
A discipline that integrates current events has a distinct advantage over others. A curriculum that has its principles linked to the current news of the day becomes urgent in a more tangible way when its principles are connected with that news. The use of social media has already resulted in students being accustomed to exchanging their opinions about reported news, sometimes passionate. Students get a chance to weigh in on the issues that structure their world by connecting abstract principles to their real-world analogs.
Conducting a semester-end survey of students is an excellent idea, even if the department does not require it. If teachers want to ensure proper classroom engagement and are interested in finding out how students can effectively engage, they should ask faculty members for advice. It is essential to encourage the students to tell what inspires them and how they can do more in the future to pique their interest.