Student Engagement: Does It Always Improve Learning?

The question in the title can be considered in light of an interesting case study reported by a sociologist who teaches at a comprehensive university in Wisconsin. As a new faculty member without much teaching experience, he reports, “I was disappointed with the level of engagement in previous semester-long student research projects. ... A lack of excitement and engagement seemed to correlate with students' difficulty synthesizing their learning into a coherent whole and articulating sociological arguments in final papers about their cases.” (p. 208) Many of us can relate. Frequently students don't pull it all together on a comprehensive exam or final paper assignment. We are disappointed in what it appears they have not learned.

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