Engaging your students
At RMIT we encourage approaches to learning and teaching that actively involve students, and that allow them to develop and to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems. To engage students in this form of active learning, as a teacher you need to provide the right conditions to stimulate their interest in the course and to motivate them to persevere and succeed.
Some important points for engaging your students are:
- Make explicit at the commencement of the course, and then regularly throughout, what the learning is for (ie what knowledge, skills, capabilities, attributes will be developed) and why and how it will be conducted using the teaching approaches you have chosen
- Know as much about your student group as possible (eg about their backgrounds, experiences and abilities) in order to create teaching that is inclusive and relevant
- Model the behaviour that you expect from your students – be enthusiastic, enquiring, collaborative, timely and encouraging
- Develop learning and assessment that is relevant to students’ professional aspirations, and let them know that it directly relates to professional and industry practices and the work that they will undertake in their careers
- Align your learning outcomes, learning activities and assessment – students will be more willing to dedicate themselves to study when the learning makes sense and the connection between learning tasks and the assessment that follows is clear and logical
- Ensure that learning is supported and achievable – students will be more motivated when they know they can succeed, and will accept difficulty if this is conveyed positively as a necessary step in the learning process
- Let students make decisions and take ownership of their learning – this includes taking into account their suggestions to improve the learning experience
- Set clear goals and give feedback on student progress
- Allow time to cover topics in depth – this encourages deep rather than surface learning
- Keep your topics and learning materials up to date
- Vary the types of learning activities and assessment tasks you use.
For more pointers on how to engage your students, take a look at the examples of practice on this page from RMIT teachers who were recipients of University Teaching Awards. They reflect on what student engagement means to them as teachers, what steps they take in the planning of courses to prepare for better engagement with students, and what strategies they employ in their teaching.
- Checklist on elements of student centred learning [PDF, 28KB, 3 pages]
- Checklist on inclusive curriculum [PDF, 93KB, 2 pages]
- UNSW Guidelines on Learning that Inform Teaching
- Biggs, J., and Tang, C. (2007), Teaching for Quality Learning at University, Open University Press, Berkshire
- Northedge, A. (2003), “Rethinking Teaching in the Context of Diversity”, Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 17-32.
Examples of practice
Teachers and lecturers from various schools discuss how they engage their students.
- Lee Anton-Hem: School of Medical Science
- David Carlin: School of Applied Communication
- Amalia Di Iorio: School of Economics, Finance and Marketing
- Zahir Hussain: School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Tony Robins: School of Engineering (TAFE)
- Kate Westberg: School of Economics, Finance and Marketing.