Brookings on (among other things) Student Engagement

The Brown Center at Brookings has released their 2015 Report on American Education. There’s a lot to delve into, but I wanted to offer (and solicit!) some thoughts on their student engagement findings. (I linked the full report above, but you may want to dive directly to the Student Engagement summary.)

Here’s what grabbed me the most:

“Let’s conclude by considering the advantages that national-level, difference in difference analyses provide that student-level analyses may overlook.


4.  Testing artifacts from a cultural source can also be dampened.  Characteristics such as enjoyment are culturally defined, and the language employed to describe them is also culturally bounded.  Consider two of the questionnaire items examined above: whether kids “enjoy” math and how much they “look forward” to math lessons.  Cultural differences in responding to these prompts will be reflected in between-country averages at the baseline, and any subsequent changes will reflect fluctuations net of those initial differences.”

This paragraph throws into sharp relief my growing awareness of student engagement as a culturally-conditioned thing. I’ve been conceptualizing it much more closely on an individual level, as we’ve been discussing it in class, considering my “talkative” students and my “quiet” students and my students who are between those groups and how I can get all of them to keep engaged in the class. What my students and I have to define together is the culture of participation and engagement for our classroom. I’m aware that part of that work rests on American norms and disciplinary norms (and different slants of research), but I also think there’s a lot of collaborative work to be done in setting mutual expectations, and I’d love to keep discussing this more with y’all.