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From psychology laboratory to student development: untangling momentary engagement from longer-term engagement in bioscience education

posted on 2023-06-10, 04:10 authored by Harry WitchelHarry Witchel, Rudi Klein, Puspha Sinnayah, Joseph Rathner
Student engagement and its measurement remain contested by different research disciplines that aim to evaluate education. In computer analytics, engagement is momentary, and longer-term engagement arises from accumulated momentary engagement. By contrast, policymakers see engagement as fundamentally longer-term, emerging from the student’s identification and sense of belonging. The definition of engagement is a long-debated topic, and this lack of agreement is a major problem for the field. Behavioral engagement is dedicated time and effort, which may be necessary and is certainly contributory to the outcomes of learning and development. Various engagement theories have included behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social elements. Some engagement paradigms have subsumed other contributors to learning, such as motivation, cognitive strategies, and social communities. Despite much recent progress in our understanding of learning science, the relationship of the benefits of momentary to longer-term engagement is insufficiently researched. We and others have attempted to tease apart engagement’s causes and consequences. Some technological approaches (e.g., gamification) boost momentary engagement to kindle longer-term engagement; this may be the mechanism of active learning and frequent formative assessments. The opposite pedagogical approach uses longer-term, internalized motivation as a substrate that allows consistent triggering of momentary engagement by traditional pedagogies. Whereas metrics of behavioral engagement are sometimes agreed upon, the emotional-cognitive-behavioral meta-construct of engagement may cause more confusion than clarity when evaluating outcomes such as development and learning. Thus, using engagement as an outcome, instead of measuring learning and development directly, solves some policy problems, but it exacerbates many scientific problems regarding mechanism.


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  • Published

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Technologies in Biomedical and Life Sciences Education




Methods in Physiology

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  • BSMS Neuroscience Publications

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Harry Witchel, Michael W Lee

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