​In a recent Educational Benchmark Study, Wonderlic, Inc. and the Imagine America Foundation (IAF) joined forces to identify factors that influence student engagement. More than 4,000 students nationwide participated in the study which focused on the impact of student and school characteristics on student success.

​According to researchers, student engagement occurs when students make a significant, psychological investment in their learning. Engaged students are more likely to graduate, are more likely to be up to date with their loan payments, and are more likely to secure gainful employment within their field of study.

Researchers found that student perceptions about the enrollment process, admissions representatives, advisors, faculty, classes, and campus resources all play a vital role in student engagement. There are a few simple things that all schools can do to drive engagement, and in turn, improve educational outcomes: ​

  1. Ensure that teachers know their students’ names.Researchers found that students are more engaged in their classes and find their classes to be more interesting if the teachers simply know their names.
  2. Foster the support systems that students need to succeed.Researchers found that establishing and fostering student support systems drive engagement and educational outcomes. For example, if advisors are focused on students’ individual needs and interests, and use such information to match students to their career interests, then students are more likely to be proud of their school and recommend it to others. 

Improving Student Engagement

TIP #1: FRIENDS AND FAMILY MAKE A DIFFERENCE

​Researchers found that one important factor in building student engagement is support from both family and friends; if important people in their lives support their decision to go to school, students are also more satisfied with their progress towards completing their program.

TIP #2: ENGAGEMENT EQUALS EMPLOYMENT

​When compared to current students, drop-outs, and those who never enrolled, individuals who graduated have the highest rate of full-time employment and the lowest rate of unemployment. Furthermore, graduates are more likely to be employed within their field of study than drop-outs.

TIP #3: KEEP STUDENTS ON TRACK TO PAY BACK STUDENT LOANS

​The vast majority of students in the study (80%) use loans to help pay for their education, and many of these students pay for their education independently. The research suggests if schools can help students understand the costs of education, tuition payments, and student loan commitments, and provide useful information about financial aid options, students will be more likely to follow through on their loan commitments.​

CONCLUSION

​Researchers concluded that both school and student characteristics affect educational outcomes - to improve student outcomes, schools need the right resources and they need to select the right students.It is not surprising that engaged learners have more positive educational outcomes. However, it may be surprising to learn that schools can do a great deal to increase student engagement. If schools support their students, educate them about loan repayment, and engage them in the classroom, then students are also more likely to have more positive educational outcomes. ​

Click the link to download a complete version of this study.