Student engagement best practices have experienced a shift in the last few years. The rise of social media and new technologies have all contributed to the way leaders must think about student engagement. And as the needs of our students change, so too must your engagement strategies. In this article, we’ll explain what these changes mean for higher education institutions. Which must-have student engagement strategies you need for success.

What is Student Engagement in Higher Education?  

According to The Glossary of Education Reform, student engagement measures how attentive, curious, interested, optimistic, and passionate students are in relation to their environment. This extends to their motivation to learn, progress in their degree, and build relationships with peers and instructors.  

Why is Student Engagement Changing?  

COVID-19 drove the need for remote learning platforms in all educational arenas. Physical, emotional, and cognitive engagement declined during the pandemic in remote learning environments. The most significant decline was in students’ emotional engagement during this time—a decrease that stagnates the experience of the student and faculty. 

In a world where students can easily access information and communicate with each other without ever leaving their homes, it’s no wonder that many have trouble mustering up the motivation to get involved in social events.  

5 Steps to Improving Student Engagement in Higher Education     

Given the rate at which the world is changing, an outdated strategy is likely working against achieving those goals. Here are five proven strategies for increasing student engagement in 2022.  

1. Provide a welcoming student engagement experience that builds trust with students.     

A college or university experience can be both overwhelming and exhilarating for students. Providing a welcoming experience that is both personal and engaging will help students feel more comfortable “coming out of their shell” as they navigate their way through this new phase in their lives. 

There are many ways to create a welcoming environment, and it begins with the first few touch-points your institution has with students. Provide exceptional introductory experiences through orientation programs and student-led tours that give students a chance to build authentic relationships with student ambassadors and each other.  

Student engagement in higher education

2. Let students know their voice matters.   

When students feel their voices matter, they are more likely to be involved in school life and take advantage of all the available resources and opportunities. There are several simple, inexpensive ways to let students know their voice matters. 

For example, student governments and organizations can give students a platform to share their ideas and concerns about campus. Use surveys and data gathered to determine what kinds of events might hook student interest.  

Ask questions about what kind of social activities, organizations, and events they’d like to participate in. You can even allow student-led committees to plan and host them.   

3. Engage students digitally. 

In a world that is increasingly driven by technology, it’s no surprise that students expect their college or university experience to be tech-savvy. Utilize online tools and platforms to make it easy for students to connect with each other and with resources. 

Think about the platforms where students spend their time—Instagram, Facebook, and others. This is where they consume the most information about what their peers are up to and where they manage much of their social lives. By investing time and money into a polished and active social media presence, students can easily access information about upcoming events that might interest them.

Additionally, use your social media channels to post images of students at each event. Encourage them to tag each other, take advantage of trending hashtags around campus, and use engaging features such as poles and questions to get students to like and follow your content.  

4. Host weekend events. 

Colleges and universities often host events during the week for students. But by the time the weekend arrives and students have lots of free time to spend socializing, there are far fewer events to choose from.  

Weekend events provide opportunities for students to interact with their peers outside of the classroom setting. They’re also more inclusive, as they give students who may have to spend spare time working a second job or tending to family an opportunity to engage with their peers. As a result, student engagement is often increased when colleges and universities host weekend events. 

Some historically successful ideas for weekend events include hosting a campus-wide concert, open mic night, or movie night. You can also invite guest speakers, create opportunities for students to get involved in service projects, or plan outings to local attractions.  

5. Leverage advisors, faculty, and staff in cultivating student engagement.  

Advisors, faculty, and staff members are some of the most important people on campus when it comes to student engagement. They’re the ones who can help connect students with resources, introduce them to new opportunities, and even provide a listening ear when needed. 

Encourage and incentivize advisors, faculty, and staff members to get involved in student life outside the classroom. For example, they can participate in intramural sports leagues, attend campus events, and get to know students on a more personal level. Additionally, they can serve as mentors and role models for students. 

Advisors, faculty, and staff members can also play an important role in student engagement by encouraging students to get involved in campus life. They can do this by sharing information about upcoming events and opportunities with students, inviting them to participate in activities, and providing encouragement when needed. 

The Bottom Line  

Student engagement is critical for post-secondary students, faculty, and institutions’ success. Engaging with professors, classmates, campus resources, and the community makes students more likely to persist in their education and feel a sense of connection to their school.   

Need help boosting student engagement in higher education? Oracle Real Estate Group (OREG) can help you improve student engagement at your school through these and other creative and proven steps. Contact us to get an assessment of your student engagement strategy. 

Ready to take your Student Engagement Programming to the next level?