1.Create an Open and Welcoming Campus Culture
Research findings suggest that campus cultures are key to student engagement. To feel that they belong, students need to feel that their campus accepts and respects them. Non-traditional students are particularly susceptible to feeling alienated or disengaged.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a non-traditional student is defined as a student who has either enrolled late in their lives, is attending college part-time, is working full time, has dependents other than a spouse, is a single parent or doesn’t have a high school diploma.
It’s important that schools pay particular attention to the way their campus culture handles non-traditional students. Students who feel estranged from their campus environment are more likely to be apathetic and to experience lower levels of well-being. Schools should take a proactive approach to adapting their campus cultures to meet the needs of students from different backgrounds and be welcoming to all students.
2.Provide a Variety of Support Services
A number of studies have concluded that support services for engagement are extremely important. In particular, the orientation process was found to be crucial in helping students to settle into academic life. It also helped students to make social connections with their peers and teachers, as well as become familiar with the campus geography.
Other support services that have been found to be key to engagement are:
- assistance with essay planning,
- providing inexperienced students with senior student mentors,
- childcare services,
- and quiet work spaces.
3.Be Adaptable to Changes in Student Expectations
Research evidence suggests that schools who successfully engage their students are the ones that are never fully content with their performance. These schools are constantly changing their practices in order to adapt to the changing needs and expectations of their students.
To successfully engage students, schools must make an effort to understand what challenges each new generation of students is facing and respond accordingly. For example, many students work jobs and go to school. This is often a financial necessity and as a result, students are spending less time on campus. Therefore, schools need to be able to adapt to reaching students when they aren’t on campus.
This information in this article comes from a 2010 research paper by Nick Zepke and Linda Leach, titled Improving Student Engagement: Ten Proposals for Action. The research in this paper was drawn from 93 studies on student engagement in higher education.