Student Engagement Characteristics

When administrators are observing a class, they are looking for the following indicators of student engagement:
Positive body languageStudents exhibit body postures that indicate listening and attention to the teacher and/or other students. Eye contact, head position, leaning forward or backward, and positions of arms all indicate a student’s level of interest and attention.
Consistent focusStudents are focused on the learning activity with minimum disruptions. Students’ attention does not waiver because of lack of interest, lack of knowledge of how to proceed, frustration, or some outside distraction.
Verbal participationStudents express thoughtful ideas and answers. They ask questions that are relevant or appropriate to learning. Student participation is not passive; it involves sharing opinions and reflecting on complex problems.
Student confidenceStudents exhibit confidence to initiate and complete a task with limited coaching or approval-seeking and can actively participate in team-based work.
Fun and excitementStudents exhibit interest and enthusiasm and use positive humor.
Observers also hold conversations with students to gather details about the degree to which they are engaged in a learning experience. These are further indications of student engagement that can be gleaned from conversations with students.
Individual attentionStudents feel comfortable in seeking help and asking questions.
Clarity of learningStudents can describe the purpose of the lesson or unit. This is more comprehensive than describing the activity based on the lesson of the day.
Meaningfulness of workStudents find the work interesting, challenging, and connected to learning.
Rigorous thinkingStudents work on complex problems, create original solutions, and reflect on the quality of their work.
Performance orientationStudents understand what quality work is and how it will be assessed. They also can describe the criteria by which their work will be evaluated.


Here are links to documents and resources that can help you increase student engagement in your classroom.