Wednesday, April 1, 2015

An educational test tool for school, teacher and class engagement for greater learning

When a prepared teacher walks into a classroom his aim is to make the students active participants in the learning process. That is what engagement is about. Engagement of students in active learning brings about predictable outcomes – increased achievement in standardized test scores and assessment, reduced dropout rates and enrollment in challenging courses. Student engagement should cut across the three dimensions of learning, hence, affective, behavioral and cognitive, whether at the classroom or school level.

Active student participation is a learning good.
Credit: Woodleywonderworks on flickr
How does a school, administrator or teacher measure the frequency of his/her students’ engagement?

According to research from student motivation and psychology, when students participate in class, they could be driven by many factors. One of them is the desire to cooperate in the process and learning, so that the teacher, the oppressor, should not bother them. This is what a teacher wants to avoid. Another is to put the maximal effort without any external compulsive force to show exemplary academic behavior. This latter is a good in a class.

Another reason why an engagement measuring tool is important is that children learn across different developmental stages. The learning predisposition of kindergartens, elementary school, middle high and senior high school students are different. It is known that elementary and kindergarten school pupils are more attuned to affective or emotional learning styles more than high school students.

To fill this knowledge gap in measuring engagement, Ze Wang, associate professor of educational, school and counseling psychology in the College of Education at Missouri University, MU, along with other colleagues produced a classroom engagement inventory (CEI) tool.

The classroom engagement inventory or CEI tool measures student engagement in both the classroom and school level. School level engagement is a prompt for teachers and educators to test why students chose or exempt themselves from out-of-school learning; it measures their interest in schooling at a holistic level. Classroom level engagement would answer questions such as: what can teachers do to make their students participate more in class activities, how can a teacher’s teaching effectiveness be evaluated, how can teachers know and understand how their students perceive them, and understand the relationship between engagement and learning.

The CEI tool has been shown by studies to be consistent and validated. It has been consistent whether the students or pupils have variable characteristics such as ethnicity, income of the family, age, subject and gender. According to Ze Wang, the goal of a tool like CEI is to lead the teacher and students to greater learning.

You can download a copy of the research.

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