How to Keep Students Engaged on Campus
If you’re running a college or university, you need to do everything you can to keep your students engaged on campus. Engaged students tend to be happier students, they have better learning outcomes, and they’re much more likely to recommend your college to others. So how do you accomplish this?
Why Does Student Engagement Matter?
Let’s start with the basics of why student engagement matters.
Students are engaged when they’re actively paying attention to their surroundings, feel like they belong, and enjoy and feel comfortable in their environment. This is important for several reasons:
· Learning outcomes. It’s intuitive that more engaged students tend to see better learning outcomes. If you feel comfortable and you’re paying attention, you’re going to retain more information from lectures. You’re also going to perform better on exams and eventually see better grades. Boosting engagement means creating a more effective learning facility.
· A sense of community. Engagement is also important for building a sense of community. Engaged students are more likely to collaborate with each other, more likely to identify with the university’s identity, and more likely to contribute to campus culture.
· Student involvement and activity. Keeping students engaged will also increase their likelihood of being involved in activities. They’ll join more groups, lead more initiatives, and volunteer more frequently. All of these things are great opportunities for individuals and the university itself.
· Institutional reputation, new students, and more. Having more engaged students also reflects well on your university. If your students are generally happy and active, you’ll end up getting higher ratings and earning a better reputation. Engaged students are also more likely to recommend your college to others, helping you build word-of-mouth popularity.
Boosting Student Engagement
Now let’s focus on strategies you can use to boost student engagement.
· Start with a cohesive brand. Everything starts with your university brand and core identity. If your school doesn’t have a distinctive identity of its own, students will never be able to identify with it. If your identity means totally different things to different groups of people, those groups aren’t going to get along in collaborative settings. If the messaging of your brand changes from building to building and from day to day, students will also be left feeling confused and alienated. That’s why you should start by formally documenting your brand requirements and making sure every inch of your campus follows them.
· Invest in digital signage. With digital signage and the digital signage software to manage it, You’ll be able to broadcast messaging throughout all the buildings of your campus. You can display motivational messaging, advertise upcoming events, provide directions, and even distribute emergency messaging when necessary. All in all, it provides more information and more meaning to your students, fostering a more cohesive campus culture.
· Get leaders and administrators involved. Students are much more likely to be engaged when they interact with faculty members in a positive setting. Obviously, your professors and teachers are going to be largely responsible for building student engagement. But you may not realize that your leaders and administrators will also be responsible for this. Encourage all your faculty members to engage with students regularly.
· Communicate across multiple channels. The omnichannel approach is highly effective, since every communication channel offers distinctive strengths and weaknesses. When possible, use multiple channels and methods to communicate with your students, including text messages, emails, and various social media platforms.
· Encourage activity. Active students tend to be engaged students, so try to support more engagement by supporting more activity. This can manifest in many different ways, like sponsoring the development of more groups, investing in advertising to showcase existing groups, or incentivizing participation in school events. If students are particularly interested in one specific activity, consider investing more time and money in promoting that activity.
· Encourage healthy competition. Healthy competition is a good thing for everyone involved. Encourage students to compete against each other in the classroom, in groups, and in the broader setting of the university. Of course, the keyword here is “healthy:” Avoid pitting students against each other antagonistically, or you’ll fracture the culture you’ve tried so hard to build.
· Get feedback and improve. Finally, make sure to collect feedback from students directly. They’ll likely tell you if you’re missing the mark and provide you with ideas you can use to improve student engagement in the future. The only big caveat here is that you have to take action on this feedback if you want it to make a difference.
Student engagement doesn’t come naturally, and sometimes it doesn’t come easily. Still, if you make a concentrated effort to improve your culture and brand, and you’re willing to experiment with different initiatives, you’ll eventually get to a place of much higher student engagement.