Gardner Campbell’s “Apgar” test for student engagement

Thanks to a link from my Twitter feed, I clicked on Gardner Campbell’s UNFIS 2015 keynote talk on “A Taxonomy of Student Engagement” on Youtube. I was enraptured for over an hour – the video itself is an hour and 5 minutes, but I paused and took notes and wrote this post. His talk turned around my ideas about student engagement and course syllabi and student assessment, and among the many interesting ideas he presented was this: a simple 5-question test to assess the health of student engagement in a course.

1. Did you read the material for today’s class meeting carefully?

No = 0, Yes, once = 1, Yes, more than once = 2

2. Did you come to class today with questions or items you’re eager to discuss?

No = 0, Yes, one = 1, Yes, more than one = 2

3. Since we last met, did you talk at length to a classmate or classmates about either the last class meeting or today’s meeting?

No = 0, Yes, one person = 1, Yes, more than one person = 2

4. Since our last meeting, did you read any unassigned material related to this course of study?

No = 0, Yes, one item = 1, Yes, more than one item = 2

5. Since our last class meeting, how much time have you spent reflecting on this course of study and recent class meetings?

None to 29 minutes = 0, 30 minutes to an hour = 1, over an hours = 2

From Gardner Campbell, UNFIS 2015 keynote – a Taxonomy of Student Engagement

I’m afraid that many of my students will often score near zero, unless they’re studying for the upcoming midterm. Gardner’s point is that we have a tendency to over-prescribe what our students shall do, and we spend our energies monitoring and rewarding compliance, in ways that detract from student interest and engagement with the course topics. We may be constrained by large class sizes, our colleagues expectations, and the need to assess student learning outcomes, but can we think creatively about even small ways that we can truly engage our students?



About jchoigt

I'm an Associate Professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech, and Faculty Coordinator of the Professional MS Bioinformatics degree program.
This entry was posted in Academia, Teaching and learning biology. Bookmark the permalink.

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