In 1956, Robert Gagne published his famous book ‘the condition of learning,’ where he listed the nine events of instruction arranged in the order of necessary progression. The first of these nine sequences or events, ‘Gain Attention,’ has been a subject of research and discourse. This is not only because without getting the attention of the learner, communication will be ineffective, but also because the objectives of learning will be unattainable if learners are not actively engaged in their learning. Over the years, much has been done to increase the engagement of the learner and sustain it throughout course duration. This article will focus on solutions and initiatives that can be employed without the use of technological devices.
- Project-Based Learning
Project-based learning is a teaching approach believed to be first proposed by John Dewey in 1897. His core idea was that learners would learn effectively by doing, rather than by being taught. Using this approach, the traditional role of the teacher, therefore, changes from imposing norms, ideas, and thoughts on students to facilitating instruction. In other words, teachers guide students as they explore and investigate real-world issues and problems. And by so doing, learn from such experiences.
2. Create a Makerspace Room
Jennifer Appel (2020) explained how she creatively used an old computer lab to create a Makerspace where learners could come together to use a hands-on approach to learning. Alison Smith (2019) defined a Makerspace as an area set aside in the classroom or school where students learn how to creatively use materials and available tools to make something unique. The benefits of creating a Makerspace goes beyond getting student engaged, it also builds in learners critical thinking skills, creativity, teamwork, and self-confidence.
3. Encourage Peer Interaction and Collaboration
Contrary to the wrong assumption that classrooms would become rowdy when learners interact, group discussions have proven to be effective at getting learners engaged because such environments encourage peer-to-peer interactions and create an enabling space for collaboration. The orderliness of the classroom depends on how effectively the teacher can apply basic classroom management skills. Sophia Mavridi (2014) suggested the need to include movement in the lessons. Teachers should be intentional about this. Ask questions that would involve learners to come over and write on the board. Teachers can ask learners to compare notes or ideas with at least two students sitting a distance from them. Teachers can summarize the lesson with a song for students to sing and clap.
4. Debate a Concept
Learners are more engaged when they feel in control of their learning, can show or display what they have learned, and receive feedback. Feedback does not necessarily have to come from the teachers but can be gotten from peers. Adam Schoenbart (2015) suggested that teachers should concentrate more on having students learn by doing something and showing their peers afterward for feedback. He further suggested the use of ‘creating an argument’ about a concept and having students debate by sourcing and presenting facts to support their stand.
5. Paper Blogging
Recently, there is a rising interest in the concept of blogging in classrooms without the use of technological devices. Interestingly, most teachers are not aware of this simple approach that can increase classroom engagement and teach learners the basic ethical skills required for online blogging. Boni Hamilton (2018) suggested the use of paper blogging in the classroom. Teachers only need a wooden plywood board, a set of thumb pins, and sticky notes. This can be used to pool in learners’ entry knowledge about the topic that would be taught the following week. The board can be placed where learners can easily have access to it. The teacher can ask students to read about a topic. Then in three sentences, using sticky notes, have students write out their thoughts about the topic, why they think the topic is worth considering, and the questions they possibly have about the topic. The sticky note would be pinned to the board. Each learner would be required to read notes by other students and comment with sticky notes pinned under notes of different students. This amazing technique can also help learners build a culture of mutual respect and healthy relationships.
I will love to appreciate the recommendations and contributions of my Advisor, Professor Adrie Koehler, and Mrs. Dada Adebukola for their suggestions.
- Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2020). Gagné’s nine events of instruction. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide
- Wikipedia contributors. (2021, August 27). Project-based learning. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:50, September 10, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Project-based_learning&oldid=1040926576
- Jennifer, A. (2020). Student Engagement Without Technology. Retrieved 10:55, September 10, 2021, from https://www.teachbetter.com/blog/student-engagement-without-technology/
- Alison, S. (2019). What is a Makerspace? Retrieved 11:00, September 10, 2021, from https://www.teachstarter.com/us/blog/tips-and-ideas-for-creating-a-makerspace-in-the-classroom
- Sophia, M. (2014). Student Engagement with or without Technology. Retrieved 13:50, September 09, 2021, from http://sophiamavridi.com/student-engagement-with-or-without-technology/
- Adam, S. (2015). When the Internet Fails: 4 Non-Tech Strategies for Student Engagement & Learning. Retrieved 09:50, September 09, 2021, from https://www.techlearning.com/tl-advisor-blog/10091
- Boni, H. (2018). Integrating Technology in the Classroom: Tools to Meet the Needs of Every Student. (2nd Ed.) United States, US: International Standards for Technology in Education.
- Wikipedia contributors. (2021, August 8). Kahoot!. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:21, September 10, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kahoot!&oldid=1037753467
Emmanuel Babalola ( Author), Theodora Amuah (Editor), & Samet Baydar (Contributor) are all Ph.D. students in the department of Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University.