Thursday, February 25, 2010

More on engaging student engagement

Great comments from Lionofzion and Bryce on yesterday's post about student engagement. Both drew more attention to my comments about relationships, and Bryce proposed a project:

It would be interesting to put together a collection of narratives that describe both successful and unsuccessful attempts at increasing engagement. I would be curious to know if this issue of relationships would emerge as a critical element.

I'm game--how do we do it? Seems like a "research project' would be interesting but not-so-useful. How about a new blog--stories of engagement? Or posts here? Or a wiki? Thoughts?


lionofzion said...

Seems almost like a project for a folklorist.

Maybe it's just my research bias, but I think it would have to be done as a research project: if it's done as a blog, or a wiki, it will attract primarily those who are already invested in thinking about engagement. Sampling bias would also probably give us stories in which relationships are a critical issue, even if that's not the full range of engagement experience (Although to me, how can the word engagement mean anything else.)

So the only way to get a full result would be to go to many campuses, interviewing many people about their own experiences with engagement programs, record everything-- and then figure out how best to present it. Maybe as a study, but perhaps also as a blog, as an interactive site, as a book (a big old coffee table book.)

Bryce said...

I think it depends a bit on our objectives. If this is something that we want to publish in an academic journal, then Lion of Zion is probably right--we need something a bit more controlled and randomized.

On the other hand, maybe the best thing we could do would be to just collect stories into a centralized location and then let readers and users draw their own conclusions.

I was at a conference a few weeks ago with Dave Isay, the founder of the Story Corps project, and its had me thinking about the power of telling and listening to authentic stories. While analyzing a large sample of stories could be interesting, its possible that the greatest value would come for students and faculty members telling their stories of engagement (or the lack thereof).

I've been given a new assignment at BYU which has given me a little more flexibility to pursue projects like this one. I'm in if it's something we're serious about.