Attention, please: How to ensure students are engaged in class

Students will be more motivated in the classroom if they can better connect what they're learning to potential career paths, a new report shows.

With students and faculty recently reporting a decline in student mental well-being, the effects are beginning to snowball. A new report from the academic publishing company Wiley has discovered that student aren’t as engaged with classwork.

The report surveyed over 5,000 students and almost 2,500 college instructors and found that 53% of students are having trouble retaining class material, 55% of undergraduates are struggling to stay interested in their classes, and 66% of instructors find it challenging to keep students engaged.

The main culprit for the chasm between the student and the classroom seems to be financial and emotional stress, which corroborates reports from TimelyMD’s study on student’s top stressors.

“Students are facing a wide range of financial and emotional challenges in today’s new normal,” says Wiley Executive Vice President Matt Leavy. “These challenges are leading to disengagement that threatens their success and the outcomes and objectives of the schools serving them. Students will need extra support to remain in school, stay engaged and ultimately meet their academic and career goals.”

Specifically, 51% of students struggled to pay their tuition and appropriate materials, which is a 7% bump from last year, and 43% are having a tough time covering living expenses—a 14% hike.

Students are also at a loss with how their degree is conducive to success outside of college, and their qualms are well-founded: A similar Wiley report found that companies are finding it harder to recruit people whose talents align with their mission.

Wiley’s recommendations

  • Provide more financial and mental health assistance at schools. If a sufficient amount of resources are in place, increase awareness of the programs.
  • Check in with students earlier in the semester and maintain contact with them throughout the semester. Especially ensure at-risk students are being heard and understood.
  • Connect what students are learning to relevant career experience. For example, present students with real-world case scenarios and professionals who can link what they’re studying to what they should expect after they graduate.
  • Boost transparency between the degree they’re pursuing and the relevant careers they can expect to pursue.
  • Ensure every course students take is passing the “So what?” question: How is what they’re learning preparing them?

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Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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