EngagementNews and Updates

Engaging the Disengaged: Strategies to Reinvigorate Learning

Stressed out student
Image by JESHOOTS-com from Pixabay

With the pandemic, many courses have been forced to move online. This has presented new challenges on many fronts from content creation and delivery to changes in contact hours, and disruption to planned activities and assessments. It has left many of us frazzled and shifted us away from familiar teaching approaches and pedagogies. Not only has COVID-19 affected us as a teaching community, it has also affected our students‚Äô well-being and learning. Anecdotally, we have heard that there is an increasing number of ‚Äúdisengaged‚ÄĚ students, with lower attendance and participation rates. Many are anxious that the move away from face-to-face teaching has reduced the much-needed social interaction that is critical in engaging students in subjects or topics.

In this coffee course, we will discuss how teaching and learning can be designed to encourage continued engagement and social interaction that contribute towards positive student outcomes. It will also provide perspectives on how to identify and implement strategies to help disengaged students.


This course will run from Tuesday 15 September to Friday 18 September 2020. There will be 4 blog posts, one per day, that will take about 15-20 minutes to work through. You are welcome to work through the course at your own pace, any time.


Day 1: Why is engagement important? In this post, we will briefly define different forms of engagement and ask participants to reflect on their teaching practice: how are you engaging your students presently?

Day 2: How can we identify disengagement? For day 2, we will discuss ways of identifying ‚Äúdisengaged‚ÄĚ students and how we can intervene to help these students get back on track.

Day 3: How can design for engagement? On day 3, we will provide some practical ways to help you plan and design your course to incorporate student engagement.

Day 4: ‚ÄúWe are halfway through the semester, is there anything we can do?‚ÄĚ. In this final post, we will provide tips and tricks on how to tweak your courses to encourage engagement.

All are welcome

We welcome all staff, including tutors, demonstrators, professional staff, and academics at the Australian National University and beyond to join us for this course.

How to participate

The entire course will be conducted online, at your own pace through this blog. We encourage you to make a cup of coffee or tea and work through the material. Each post includes an activity or discussion question for you to respond to in the comment section of the blog. Be sure to subscribe¬†to the blog (scroll down to the bottom, enter your email address and¬†click on the red¬†Subscribe¬†button). You’ll receive an email each time a new post is made, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


Photograph of Facilitator Rebecca NgRebecca Ng

Educational Technologist, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Dr Rebecca Ng‚ÄĮis¬†an Educational¬†Technologist with the¬†College of Arts and Social Sciences. She describes herself as a ‚Äúpartial cyborg‚ÄĚ as she believes that technology has changed the way she thinks and approaches her daily life. More importantly, it has changed the way we perceive and learn. Hence, she is¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† interested in researching new pedagogical approaches that can effectively¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† integrate different technologies to support higher education.¬†

Frederick Chew

Education Manager, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU College of Science

Mr Frederick Chew is the Education Manager for the Fenner School of Environment and Society, College of Science. He has extensive training, knowledge and experience in designing innovative courses for active and experiential learning. He is particularly interested in the use of Virtual Reality                                                      and new technologies to better help students meet their learning outcomes.   

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