How to do I get my students engaged in the lessons? What is student engagement? In her book What Does Student Engagement Mean. In her book Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty, Elizabeth Barkley defines “[s]tudent engagement [as] the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either element is missing.” (Barkley, 2009) This quote was interesting because it explained how both motivation and active learning are need in order for student engagement to occur.


I identify with the quote because I have only one have of the equation – active learning, but I have not had success in engage students in the learning. It is in motivating students is where I need to improve or find the key to unlock the students value and expectancy  (Barkley, 2009, p. 14).

When I searched “motivating students” I realized that I have used a few of the techniques listed. Such as trying to getting to know my students, using examples from my own work experience and using real world examples to help students make connection between the material and the end results (Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, 2018). I have even tried to present with more passion, but this is difficult to maintain when they stare blankly back at you. I have tried to build relationships with students which is not as difficult because I have small classes.


The article “Encouraging Positive Student Engagement and Motivation: Tips for Teachers” was an eye opening read for me, because it describes how confidence or self-efficiency help teachers to have a positive impact on their students resulting in increased student motivation and engagement. (Stephens, 2015). I believe confidence in my teaching and topic knowledge is what has been eroded and is what is limiting my ability to help students see the value in the work and class. Understanding clearly that my confidence has an impact on the class I can improve it and create a “positive, proactive, and solution-focused orientation, resulting in increased student motivation and engagement.” (Stephens, 2015)


Now that I have better insight into myself and teaching I can make improvements that will hopefully help students be more engaged in the class by knowing that I do know what I am talking about. This is one way I could improve students value in attending and participating in class.  My classroom presence is one part of improving engagement. I will continue to use active learning strategies to engage students, but I need to increase my students’ motivation in order to improve engagement.

Ideas I have to improve my confidence and presence are having class room observations from the Centre for Teaching and Learning and my program lead. I will continue to seek advice from colleagues, try not to be a perfectionist and admit when I don’t know something (Eison, 1990). Taking this course should help as will doing volunteer work where I am able to do accounting work and use the knowledge I have. At the moment I feel that I made a huge mistake changing careers to teaching.



Barkley, E. F. (2009). What Does Student Engagement Mean. In Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (pp. 3-15). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Eison, J. (1990). Confidence in the Classroom: Ten Maxims for New Teachers. College Teaching, 21-25.

Stephens, T. L. (2015, August 21). Encouraging Positive Student Engagement and Motivation: Tips for Teachers. Retrieved from Pearson:

Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. (2018). Motivating Students. Retrieved from Vanderbilt Center for Teaching:

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