The first year of student in the university is a fundamental time to define the engagement that one is likely to have in the university. However, it is worrying observing how impractical the issue of students engagement has been in their first year in the university. Since students are completely strange to each other they would take extensive time before becoming friends. In addition, the students are not aware of the best studying techniques that would help them bond with the activities of the university. Nevertheless, this may be resolved. The first proposal that would be considered in coming up with an exclusive strategy to engage first year students is proposal for the most reliable studying methods during matriculation. In this forum, there will be extensive emphasis on the need for a student to become friendly to the books (Coates, 2006). This means that students should practice allocation of time for personal studies in their first year so that they may carry the habit with them for the rest of their life in the university.
Moreover, emphasis on social activities should be taken critical during the matriculation. It would be erroneous to make students believe so much in education to a point they abandon their social life. The university would have massive effect on how students perceive social activities. It is sensible to make the students engage in a range of activities that would make their lives in the university enjoyable, as well as relevant to them and the university. However, the university must be keen on the kind of social events it introduces to students since not all of them would be helpful to them. Some would ruin their character instead of enhancing. In such platforms, students will have direct connection with each other and the bond that is created would extend the rest of the time they would be in the university (Fried, 2012).
The other element that would be vital in enhancement of engagement of students in universities is existence of online activities. It is pitiful that some universities do not yet have online classes and library. These are platforms that may be used to keep students connected to the activities of the university, as well as devoted to success of the engagement that is being defined. Online classes consist of platforms where students participate in discussions over certain subjects of their study. Through these discussions the students will automatically get engaged with the activities of the school as well as they become connected to each other. Through online assignments, students learn on how to use university resources like the online library for enhanced study (Loh, 2012). This may introduce the students to the library staff who assist them in handling their assignments.
In addition, students should be engaged to the university through involvement in decision-making processes of the university. This means that students should have a representative in the senate of the school. The individual should be concerned with the representation of students’ affairs during creation of a program in the university. The representatives are termed as leaders of the students in the university. They are usually involved in organizing activities concerning students. The student leaders act as a link between the university and the students. This would ensure that all activities in which a student is required proper preparation were done and necessary protocols observed (O'leary & Giove, 2013). This would ensure that students have complete and reliable attachment to the university.
Academic staff plays vital role in enhancing students’ engagement with their studies and the university community. There should excellent platform over which students interact with the academic staff. In most cases, the academic staffs are exposed to massive knowledge on various fields that would be extremely useful to students. The first merit that academic staff may extend to students is advice on selection of academic units that one is supposed to take on a given course. They have ardent experience that would help them offer exclusive advice to students. Their advice would be extremely useful in enhancing the studying skills among students, which would ensure their exclusive performance in class. The academic staff should create a platform in which students always feel free to interact their lecturers. This would create social cohesion between students and lecturers (O'leary & Giove, 2013). Also, students will be in a position to improve on their education following the motivation that they obtain from the close relationship. This means that the staff would be vital in enhancing students’ engagement in the university.
The other technique that would be used in enhancing students’ engagement in the university is the use of assessment to shape the student experience and encourage engagement. The management or the academic staff should ensure that they provide feedback on tests to students as early and often as possible. This would act as motivation to students as they will have it in their minds that they need to work hard to maintain their performance or improve in the coming exams. Also, the academic staff should use assessment in a creative way to ensure that they bring peers together in and out of the classroom. In addition, the academic staff may engage students in self-assessment, as well as peer assessment to ensure that focus is mainly on the habit of becoming and remaining engaged in the learning process (Madriaga, 2012).
As support to the above discussion, questions were asked to different people on their view concerning students’ engagement with the university.
Question : Is engagement program important and how should Universities initiate it?
According to a peer counselor who is a retired high school, student engagement programs are exclusively needed in universities. He described the program as the most outstanding program to guarantee possession of skills and necessary knowledge among students. He said it is extremely easy for students to engage in reasonable study while in the university. It will be extremely easy for students to work towards achieving personal goals, as well as enhancing realization of the mission of the university. The spirit of the university will be uplifted and it will be to the benefit of students since they will be in a position to study in a highly competitive university. If a university becomes famous following exclusive performance, students from the school will have direct impact to the society since everyone would wish to work close to them.
He argued that it may be hard for universities to introduce the program to students who are already in school but it may try it out through freshmen. This is a strategy where the program is introduced to students immediately they join the university. They will get used to the system and they will always work according to the culture that has been developed in the school.
I also asked my course mate concerning the engagement program and he was extremely supportive of the idea. He argued that this was the best platform for students to get involved in the activities of the university as they continue with their studies in the university. He narrated to me his personal experience in the university and he was quite sure of extensive difference in his performance and social life within the school if students’ engagement in the university was emphasized. His argument was clear definition of what would befall students the students engagement program was made compulsory in the university.
Coates, H. (2006). Student Engagement in Campus-Based and Online Education: University Connections. London: Routledge.
Fried, J. (2012). Transformative learning through engagement student affairs practice as experiential pedagogy. Sterling, Va.: Stylus.
Loh, P. (2012). 'Student' research on the student experience. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 1(3), 12-14.
Madriaga, D. M. (2012). The Vision of the Student Engagement and Experience Journal. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 1(2), 23.
O'leary, C., & Giove, S. (2013). Fostering student engagement. Student Engagement and Experience Journal,2(2), 8-13.