Researchers report low achievement, student boredom, and alienation, along with high dropout rates connected to engagement (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004; Swap & Walter, 2015). Especially in the STEM fields those problems are escalated by high attrition rates. Between 2003 and 2009, 48% of bachelor’s degree students left the STEM fields according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education (Chen & Soldner, 2013). A White House report shows that students leave STEM for many reasons including experiencing an uninviting atmosphere, having to pass weed-out classes, and discovering that courses demonstrate no relevancy (Lander & Gates, 2010). Student engagement is shown to be linked statistically to the rate of student graduation (Price & Tovar, 2014).
STEM is just an example, but other disciplines also struggle with engagement issues. The study of gamification, and human motivation, will help faculty to explore practices to improve engagement to benefit students. Further benefits include faculty who increase their own enjoyment of teaching introductory courses. Benefits further include programs that are able to retain more students, and organizations, which can produce more graduates.
Chen, X., & Soldner, M. (2013). STEM Attrition: College Students’ Paths Into and Out of STEM Fields, 102. Retrieved from http://necs.ed.gov
Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., and Paris, A. (2004). School engagement: potential of the concept: state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74, 59–119.
Lander, E. S., & Gates, S. J. (2010). Prepare and inspire. Science (New York, N.Y.), 330(October), 151. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198062
Price, D.V. and Tovar, E. (2014) Student Engagement and Institutional Graduation Rates: Identifying High-Impact Educational Practices for Community Colleges, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, Vol 38, No 9, pp 766–782.
Swap, R. J., & Walter, J. A. (2015). An Approach to Engaging Students in a Large-Enrollment, Introductory STEM College Course. Journal Of The Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning, 15(5), 1–21.