Student engagement forms the cornerstone of a flourishing higher education institution and should not just be considered the responsibility of students themselves and of student support staff. It also involves teaching staff who can be true game-changers and a driving force behind student engagement, As such, as student support staff, it is also key to be able to effectively communicate its importance to various staff groups, and navigate the intricate web of policies and structures that influence student engagement within institutions.
Advocating for and creating awareness of student engagement by university staff is a multi-faceted endeavour. It begins with recognising the importance of student engagement at the policy level and understanding that staff are the catalysts for change. Effective communication and collaboration among different staff groups, combined with a comprehensive understanding of institutional policies and structures, can lead to a more engaged and enriched learning environment. In embracing this responsibility, university staff not only elevate the student experience but also contribute to the long-term success of their institution.
- Defending Student Engagement at the Policy Level
To advocate for student engagement, university staff must first recognise its significance and advocate for it at the policy level. This entails actively participating in discussions, committees, and decision-making processes that shape institutional policies. Staff members should emphasise that student engagement is not just an educational philosophy but a measurable factor contributing to academic success, personal development, and the reputation of the university.
- Staff as Game-Changers for Student Engagement
Staff members are the linchpin of student engagement. Their attitude, approach, and interactions with students can make a profound difference. By fostering a culture of respect, inclusion, and support, staff can create an environment where students feel motivated to engage actively in their learning journey. Encouraging innovative teaching methods, offering mentorship, and providing opportunities for student involvement in decision-making processes are key ways staff can become game-changers for student engagement.
- Communicating the Importance of Student Engagement
It is essential to convey the significance of student engagement to different staff groups and help them understand how it directly affects their work. Faculty members can enhance student performance by creating engaging course content and actively involving students in discussions. Administrative staff play a role in providing the necessary resources and support for student engagement initiatives. Effective communication and training can bridge the gap between understanding and action.
- Understanding Institutional Policies and Structures
Navigating the complex landscape of policies and structures that influence student engagement is crucial. Staff members should be familiar with policy documents, strategic plans, and institutional guidelines related to student engagement. This knowledge enables them to advocate for changes when necessary and align their efforts with the institution’s goals.
- Recognising the Cross-Sections of Staff to Students
Institutions consist of a diverse range of staff, from faculty to administration, each with varying degrees of interaction with students. Recognising these cross-sections and hierarchies is essential. Staff members should reflect on how their roles and responsibilities intersect with student engagement efforts. For example, faculty members have a direct role in classroom engagement, while administrators can create co-curricular programmes that enhance engagement beyond the classroom.
Considering the importance (teaching) staff has in encouraging and supporting student engagement, please consider how you can further support them in reflecting on the role they can play in influencing the success and effectiveness of student engagement. More concretely:
- Consider how staff attitudes, interactions, and support can impact student engagement.
- Identify strategies to foster a culture of respect, inclusion, and support among staff members.
- Develop a communication plan to explain to different staff groups why student engagement matters and how it affects their work.