Student engagement is critical to learning in higher education. For example, there is much evidence now to suggest a strong link between active engagement and the quality of the learning experience (Biggs, 1989, 1999; Tinto, 2002). But what exactly do we mean by ‘engagement’? For many it simply refers to assisting students to connect with the subject material in a way that generates interest, enjoyment and interaction. Generating active participation is particularly important in tutorials or small group teaching, where tutorials ‘by design’, are intended to provide students a different kind of learning experience than the lecture.
In this section you will have an opportunity to learn about a number of effective and innovative practices which can improve students’ engagement and participation in your subjects. This section is structured around 4 key teaching strategies; each contributes in different ways to the development of engagement, and in engaging students through active participation. We start in structuring the tutorial by considering how the overall structure or design of your tutorial can assist in engaging students. Questioning exposes you to the rich and complex art of asking questions – for some, asking the right question is at the heart of developing depth and independence in learning. The last 2 subsections whole group activities and small group activities introduce you to a range of learning activities suitable for use in whole groups, or small group activities.