2009: Student Engagement Conference
LEARNING: WHY DOES IT MATTER
AND WHAT CAN WE DO?
Proceedings from the conference held on 7th and 9th September 2009 will be sent to attendees, and are now available for purchase: Engaging Young People in Learning: Why Does It Matter and What Can We Do?: Conference Proceedings.
29 January 2010
Student Engagement Conference overview
Improving learning involves engaging the minds, hearts and imaginations of young people. It requires us to have faith in our students and to show them respect. It means building on what they already know and believe, what they care about now, and what they hope for in the future, so that they become active and committed life long learners. This mix of behaviour, emotion and cognition is known as student engagement.
Our one-day conference brought together New Zealand and international experts in this important field. Presentations discussed:
- the evidence that increased engagement leads to better educational, social, and psychological outcomes
- how to improve engagement in learning through research–informed practice
- lessons for engaging Maori students from the Te Kotahitanga project
- what NZCER’s student engagement survey Me and My School has to say about student engagement in NZ and how it is helping schools.
Professor Russell Bishop, Assistant Dean, Maori Education, University of Waikato. His work in the Te Kotahitanga project highlights the importance of teachers developing effective caring and learning relationships in the classroom. He demonstrated how this approach can bring about fundamental change and have an impact on student achievement levels.
Professor Sandra Christenson, Birkmaier Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Minnesota. Her research investigates the key family and school factors that underpin student engagement. She is particularly interested in at-risk students, and in hooking parents into learning.
In this podcast, Dr Christenson talks about the importance of mentoring in Check & Connect. This is an evidence-based intervention programme to tackle student disengagement, developed by Dr Christenson and colleagues.
Here she discusses how the mentoring part of the programme works and the characteristics of a good mentor. She also addresses the question of how Check & Connect can be customised for the needs of particular schools, including in New Zealand.
Charles Darr, Assessment Design and Reporting Manager, New Zealand Council for Educational Research. He will analyse the patterns from NZCER’s own student engagement survey and discuss how schools have used it as a catalyst for further investigation and change.
Professor Jeremy Finn, Professor of Education at the University at Buffalo: The State University of New York. His work has shown that disengagement is often a gradual process that begins in the early years. He summarised recent research on early interventions that have been shown to have long term benefits, in particular preschool programmes and reduced class sizes.
In this podcast Dr Finn outlines six key educational policies and practices to tackle disengagement. He discusses factors such as quality pre-school programmes, small class size and improved personal contact between teachers and students.
The conference was facilitated by NZCER chief researcher Dr Cathy Wylie, who has led the longitudinal study Competent Children / Competent Learners since 1992. The importance of student engagement has been an enduring theme throughout that study.