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Keeping Students Informed & Engaged

Techniques for keeping students engaged and informed during the semester.

Instructional Challenge

Students may feel isolated and disconnected from their instructors and peers during instruction. As a result, they may be less motivated to engage in the course, and their performance may suffer. To prevent this from happening, students need more support, feedback, and communication from you. In addition, they may benefit from opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations and dialog with other students. The tips presented here address the question: How can you build a supportive learning environment that keeps students engaged and motivated to participate and learn?


Quick Guide: Keeping Students Informed and Engaged

Some students may become more easily isolated and disconnected from their instructors and peers and may need more support, feedback, and communication from you and each other. How can you build a supportive learning environment that keeps students engaged and motivated to participate and learn?


  1. Reach out to students who are struggling. In addition to providing encouragement, suggesting resources, and being available to answer student questions, consider reaching out to students with lower participation or performance. Your positive, encouraging email could make a significant difference for a struggling student.
  2. Communicate with your students and demonstrate your presence often throughout the course. Keep students informed regarding expectations, content delivery, assessments, and when they can expect feedback. Frequently share the same information in multiple ways and through various means. Maintain your “presence” in the course by being yourself (appropriately using humor and self-disclosure) through videos, narrated presentations, photos, feedback (audio and text), check-ins, office hours (via phone or web conferencing), and regular course announcements.
    Canvas Announcements
    Creating video and audio in Kaltura
    Recording in Canvas
    Creating narrated presentations(Mac | PC)
  3. Encourage students to communicate and engage with one another. Support connection among students through meaningful opportunities to communicate and collaborate. They can share ideas and experiences using small group work, projects, interactive activities, and discussions. Consider creating a question-and-answer forum for general questions and/or a separate forum (“Online Cafe”) to share personal information they are willing to share to connect (how learning is going and info on pets, family, etc.). Recognize different communication styles that may be rooted, in part, in students’ cultural backgrounds.
    Pedagogical uses of web conferencing
    Online Discussions strategies and tips
    Communication and participation strategies and tips
    Cross-Cultural Group Work (University of Michigan)
  4. Be flexible, but remain consistent. Provide multiple ways students can participate by including asynchronous methods, making content available in small chunks, and providing alternative assessment forms. Exercise understanding and fairness when a student misses a deadline or needs extra time for an assignment. Be consistent about the timing of announcements, assignment due dates, and synchronous meetings.

Further Exploration

References/Related Literature

  • Dixson, M. D. (2010). Creating Effective Student Engagement in Online Courses: What Do Students Find Engaging? Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(2), 1–13.

Keywordsstudent engagement, student motivation, communication, feedbackDoc ID103757
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-08 12:33:38Updated2024-04-16 08:18:39
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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