Engaging Students

Engaging students fully in college experiences contributes to meaningful learning and personal development. Student engagement includes connecting with instructors, with course content, with individuals and groups of peers, with the campus community, with their own sense of wellness, with civics, and with many other opportunities for growth.

The following resources have been curated by educational developers, instructional designers, and student support services personnel and were reviewed by faculty throughout the University. They are offered in the spirit of supporting instructors who aim to engage students in making the most of their education. Resources are organized in the following categories of engagement:

Engaging Students during Class

Teaching during a pandemic makes engaging students in class challenging. Here, we offer our top-five resources to provide ideas about connecting students with you, with your course content, and with their peers in your courses.

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Engaging Students during Office Hours

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Resources on Penn State Keep Learning

Guidance for Using Office Hours
Tips instructors can provide to students regarding what to speak about, how to prepare, customary behaviors, Zoom suggestions, benefits, and more

Student attendance at office hours often seems elusive, even in normal instructional times. The good news is that students are seeking connections. Younger students, especially, want to know their instructors. Consult the following resources for enticing students to make use of this long-standing way to connect with instructors.

  • Holding Virtual Office Hours
    Suggestions for instructors regarding where to post office hours times, when to schedule, how to set the stage, and creative uses of office hours, from the Flexible Instruction Teaching Guide
  • Office Hours: Guidance for Instructors (DOC)
    Considerations for accommodating students in various time zones, enticing students to attend, and more

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Engaging Students with Study Groups and Learning Resources

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Study Habits
Suggestions for individual and group study, written for students at Penn State

University Resources
Listing of resources for academic tutoring and learning support, academic advising, academic integrity, and more

Virtual Study Groups
Recommendations for creating virtual study groups

Students face unknowns and disruptions during a pandemic, making studying challenging. Refer to these resources for assisting students with learning.

  • Virtual Study Groups: Guidance for Faculty (DOC)
    A guide for faculty, highlighting the importance of student collaborative learning (especially during the pandemic) that includes study group considerations, technical how-to’s for setting up group spaces, and additional resources

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Engaging Students in Pursuit of Wellness

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Health and Wellness
Comprehensive listing of health and wellness resources for students

Instructors can play a critical role in connecting students to online tools and campus resources to support their health and wellness.

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Webinars designed to provide critical information to faculty and staff about engaging students.

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Recorded Webinars

Designing Your Courses for Inclusion and Engagement Recorded January 20, 2021Getting Started with Top Hat Recorded January 12, 2021Engaging Students during Remote Instruction Recorded November 06, 2020

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Policies, Guidelines, and Recommendations

Frequently Asked Questions

Review the following frequently asked questions about engaging students. For additional information, read all frequently asked questions.

Engaging Students

Engaging students with course content through reflective activities, peer discussions, and instructor feedback increases the likelihood of achieving learning outcomes. Consider the following resources for engaging your remote students: 

Assign students to participate in an introduction discussion forum in Canvas to introduce themselves to you and their classmates. Hold open office hours via Zoom to meet your students. We encourage all instructors to engage with their students and create a learning community in the course, no matter the mode of instruction. For more ideas related to getting to know your students, view resources from the College of Information Sciences and Technology and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (see “Creating Community”).

Motivation for remote synchronous and asynchronous courses may be different for traditional residential students than their motivation for in-person courses. Consider adding a statement to your syllabus saying that remote courses require a certain level of self-direction. For many students, this may be the first time that they have taken a course in this mode. In addition, consider adding an (recorded or live) orientation meeting to go over expectations for the remote course. Share with students how their participation will be similar or different from participation in in-person courses. Especially in remote asynchronous courses, it is a good idea to review the syllabus, materials in Canvas (calendar, assignments, common due dates), and expectations for engaging in the course throughout the week.

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