As discussed in our previous post on student engagement, educators hold different views of what it means for students to be engaged in learning. Not surprisingly, research has identified several dimensions of student engagement. These include behavioral engagement, emotional or psychological engagement, and cognitive engagement. When students are behaviorally engaged, they participate in the academic as well as the social and extracurricular components of schooling. When students are emotionally engaged, they feel good about their school and learning experiences, as well as their relationships with teachers and peers. When students are cognitively engaged, they are invested in academic tasks and motivated to learn. While behavioral and emotional engagement help to set the stage for learning, cognitive engagement has the strongest connection to improved academic outcomes.
There is some overlap between behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement in the six teacher conceptions of engagement identified by Harris (2008) (i.e., behaving, enjoying, being motivated, thinking, seeing purpose, and owning); however, seeing purpose in learning and owning one’s learning are most closely aligned with cognitive engagement. In our next post in this series, we will explore how educators can design lessons and select instructional materials that facilitate students’ ability to (1) see purpose in their learning and (2) own what they learn.