The level of student engagement can vary from student to student, and lesson to lesson so it may be difficult to get a general feel for how engaged a class is as a whole. To that end, Schlechty (2002) also outlined three categories that can be used to measure the level of engagement for an entire classroom.
- The Engaged Classroom
In the engaged classroom you will observe that all students are authentically engaged at least some of the time or that most students are authentically engaged most of the time. Passive compliance and retreatism is rarely observed and rebellion is non-existent.
- The Compliant Classroom
The compliant classroom is the picture of traditional education. This type of classroom is orderly and most students will appear to be working so it would be easy to infer that learning is taking place. However, while there is little evidence of rebellion, retreatism is a very real danger as it is very common in the compliant classroom.
- The Off-Task Classroom
Retreatism and rebellion are easily observed in the off-task classroom. This type of classroom is each-student-for-them-self so you will see some degree of authentic and ritual engagement, along with passive compliance as well. Teachers in the off-task classroom spend most of their time dealing with rebelling students rather than teaching lessons that engage.
Why do we want learners of all ages to be engaged during instruction? Because involved students learn more efficiently and are more successful at remembering what they learned. In addition, students who are engaged in learning are more likely to become passionate about learning in general. Student engagement is one byproduct of effective instruction that has major pay offs. Now that you know how to measure your students’ level of engagement, how can you increase the amount of time that students in your class are engaged in your instruction?