Thursday, March 23, 2017

Week 9 - Student Engagement and Multicultural perspective

EngagementIs Kahoot! engaging?
In the leadership activities for this week, we played a Kahoot! quiz. In what sense is this 'engaging'?
"Students should be enticed by the competitive nature of the game if it is going to be a valuable learning experience for the students. They benefit from using digital games in the classroom by learning how to handle success and failure as well as how to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills." (Icard, 2014).

Engagement and Flow
Fredericks, Blumenfeld and Paris (2004) proposed a framework for considering engagement that distinguishes between cognitive, behavioural and emotional engagement. It is important to clarify the scope of the term ‘engagement’. Policy discussion has long focused on the negative consequences of disengagement, such as school dropout, and clear behavioural indicators, such as absenteeism and disruptive classroom behaviour. This often overlooks the complexity of engagement, especially the cognitive engagement of students who may be otherwise attending class and behaving well. A short paper form the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2016) gives an interesting view point and summary about those three types of engagement in schools - what does engagement mean and how can you measure it?
Shernoff (2013) states that engagement always connotes a relationship, one of involvement to something, and defines it as a heightened, simultaneous experience of concentration, interest, and enjoyment in the task at hand. His definition includes no presumptions about how students should think, feel, behave, or relate to school. You might notice that his definition includes no mention of school whatsoever so that engagement in learning can be viewed as on par and comparable to that experienced in other less formal contexts. That definition is based completely in the experiences of students, so that engagement may be considered as a learning experience, one to be valued in its own right. This definition is rooted in Csikszentmihalyi’s (1990) conceptualisation of 'flow experience.' Flow is an optimal state of cognitive and emotional engagement, so absorbing that one may lose track of time and awareness of the self. Although the nature of schoolwork can vary, the ideal state of engagement could maybe be an active attentiveness and problem solving or the fashioning of products that promotes learning and the development of new skills, an ideal that flow experiences encapsulate.
Research tends to converge on the observation that meaningful engagement is composed of two independent processes; academic intensity and a positive emotional response. Optimal learning environments provide academic intensity through environmental challenge characterized by clear goals and high expectations for performance with complex tasks found to be relevant to students’ lives and the community at large. They also support students to succeed through motivational support, positive relationships, feedback, and opportunities for action and collaboration.
Flow and engagement can be contagious, having the potential to cross over from teacher to student, student to teacher, and permeate an entire group participating in a shared activity. New immersive technologies also show promising signs of enhancing student engagement to learn in the future. Indeed, there are many routes to engaging youth; creating meaningful engagement requires attention to a variety of contextual, instructional, developmental, and interpersonal factors beyond the preoccupation with narrowly defined educational “outcomes.”

Student Agency
Martin (2004, p. 135) characterises agency as "the capability of individual human beings to make choices and act on these choices in a way that makes a difference in their lives”.
Lindgren and McDaniel (2012, p.346) on the other hand underline that “giving students the sense that they have control and the power to affect their own learning is one of the great challenges of contemporary education”. Even if also the Piagetian (1967) notion of constructivism says that “the most transformative learning experiences will be those that are directed by the learner’s own endeavors and curiosities”.

The figure above from Nakata (2014) suggests that agency builds on self-regulation, but student agency is then the basis for autonomous learners. Further, teacher autonomy is a pre-condition for learner autonomy.

School CultureAccording to the Ministry of Education (2016), a school's culture consists of the customs, rituals, and stories that are evident and valued throughout the whole school. An effective school culture is one in which the customs and values foster success for all; and where clear boundaries are set, known, and agreed to by everyone. In developing a positive culture, effective principals ensure that educational practices are inclusive. They make certain that students and their families do not feel alienated either from their own culture or from the culture of the school.
Hauora - Well-being
Hauora is a Māori philosophy of health unique to New Zealand (Ministry of Education, 1999). Could Hauora be one of the key concepts on defining a positive school culture? It encompasses the physical, mental and emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions of health. The concept is recognised by the World Health Organisation. Maybe that could be the key to personal, national or even global success?
Hauroa comprises the following types of well-being:
Taha tinana - Physical well-being - the physical body, its growth, development, and ability to move, and ways of caring for it
Taha hinengaro - Mental and emotional well-being - coherent thinking processes, acknowledging and expressing thoughts and feelings and responding constructively
Taha whanau - Social well-being - family relationships, friendships, and other interpersonal relationships; feelings of belonging, compassion, and caring; and social support
Taha wairua - Spiritual well-being - the values and beliefs that determine the way people live, the search for meaning and purpose in life, and personal identity and self-awareness (For some individuals and communities, spiritual well- being is linked to a particular religion; for others, it is not.)

Kura Culture
Te Aho Matua is the foundation document for Kura Kaupapa Māori. According to Tākao, Grennell, McKegg & Wehipeihana (2010), the six sections of Kura Kaupapa Māori are
Te Ira Tangata (the human essence)
Te Reo (the language)
Ngā Iwi (the people)
Te Ao (the world)
Āhuatanga Ako (circumstances of learning)

“our tamariki are able to go out into the world standing strong in who they are and where they are going and enjoying ongoing education along the way in whatever they choose. – Whānau, Te Ara Hou" (Tākao, Grennell, McKegg & Wehipeihana, 2010 p.3),

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