I think true student engagement depends on a variety of factors. I like the diagram shared by Barkley near the beginning of her book that suggests that engagement can only happen when both motivation and active learning are present. This makes sense to me based on the training I have done up to this point, as the learners I have worked with only seem to be truly engaged when they are both motivated (usually by some perceived value in the learning) and participating in some type of active learning.
In addition to this relationship between motivation, active learning, and engagement, I found Barkley’s section on ‘expectancy’ quite intriguing, and agree there is a strong relationship between motivation and both a learners' hope in the possibility for success and their belief that the training is worth their time and energy. I also think Barkley's comment around motivation being the ‘portal to engagement’ is very interesting, as I agree with her contention that without motivation it is very unlikely the student will be engaged in the learning, because he/she is checked out before there is any hope of engagement.
I really enjoyed Barkley’s discussion about flow, so much so that I did my second reflection paper on this topic. I believe flow is most likely when motivation is very high. I think experiencing ‘flow’ in a learning situation just naturally leads to deeper engagement. I have experienced flow myself and know that some of the learners who take our courses experience flow at least to some degree when taking our more in-depth courses around engaging or planning with individuals and families.
Another area I think is important to motivation and engagement is the integration of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains into the learning experience. I think students/learners are more engaged when they: understand what the learning is about; feel an emotional connection with the learning; and somehow ‘walk out’ or physically experience the learning in one way or another.
These are just some of my thoughts around the learning I did from Elizabeth Barkley’s book on student engagement. I also enjoyed looking through her suggestions for instructional strategies that can encourage engagement, motivation, and active learning. As I said at the beginning of this post, I think there is real value for instructors to think about how these three elements work together to promote a good learning experience.
Barkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass