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Student Engagement Strategies

Are you wondering how to keep students engaged during Emergency Remote Instruction?  Here are some strategies for your consideration.

Increasing student engagement during emergency remote instruction presents us with much the same challenge as with onsite courses. Some students always share their thoughts and others remain quiet. We have classes of introverts and extroverts; some students are confident while others are unsure of themselves. There are many techniques for engaging learners in the remote environment.

Make the purpose of engagement a means to:

  1. monitor student understanding,
  2. uncover common misunderstandings or misconceptions; and
  3. facilitate deeper processing of the content.


Suggestions on how to utilize a variety of active learning and engagement strategies

1. Synchronous Engagement

Zoom is a great too for synchronous engagement and provides many useful functions like:

  • Chat Feature – students enter a one liner upon entry and exit - instructor provides a prompt (e.g., what new concept do you understand clearly, and which is still unclear?; In your own words, enter a brief description of ….)
    • Using icons in the chat room – encourage students to use thumbs up or thumbs down in response to a check for understanding.
  • Breakout Rooms – for group work/discussion
  • Polling Feature – Works much like an embedded quiz; clicker questions, or other periodic engagement activities.


2. Asynchronous Engagement

CatCourses provides a good place to put asynchronous content that students can access at their convenience. Some ways of engaging students in CatCourses include:

  • Discussion Board Feature – This actually provides students with more time for reflection and the development of their thoughts/responses.
  • Group assignments can be used for small group work like problem solving. Capturing group work on a GoogleDoc can be useful


Keep an eye on Who’s Slipping Away

Within CatCourses, you can use course analytics to monitor student engagement in the course. Using Analytics in CatCourses. This is critical now that we are in the remote environment. Pay particular attention to students who have slipped away, are inactive, and/or have failed to turn in assignments.

  • Reach out with a personal phone call. This is better than an email because of potential internet/connectivity issues students may be experiencing.
  • Provide guidelines with due dates (or by end of semester) for getting missed assignments turned in. The change to remote instruction, takes everyone some time to acclimate. If your students are struggling to submit assignments on-time, consider removing penalties for late work or extending due dates.
  • Make sure students understand that even if they have opted for a P/NP grade, they must complete all work AND do so at a C- level. Incomplete work or failure to complete assignments and exams will automatically result in a zero grade – this could significantly decrease overall points in class, and therefore, one’s ability to pass the course.



Content developed by Cathy A. Pohan, Ph.D.

Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning at UC Merced