Chapter

Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research

Volume 28 of the series Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research pp 47-92

Date:

Student Engagement: Bridging Research and Practice to Improve the Quality of Undergraduate Education

  • Alexander C. McCormickAffiliated withCenter for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University Email author 
  • , Jillian KinzieAffiliated withCenter for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University
  • , Robert M. GonyeaAffiliated withCenter for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University

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Abstract

This chapter traces the development of student engagement as a research-informed intervention to shift the discourse on quality in higher education to emphasize matters of teaching and learning while providing colleges and universities with diagnostic, actionable information that can inform improvement efforts. The conceptual lineage of student engagement blends a set of related theoretical propositions (quality of effort, involvement, and integration) with practice-focused prescriptions for good practice in undergraduate education. The development of survey-based approaches to measuring student engagement is reviewed, including a treatment of recent criticisms of these approaches. Next, we summarize important empirical findings, including validation research, typological research, and research on institutional improvement. Because student engagement emerged as an intervention to inform educational improvement, we also present examples of how engagement data are being used at colleges and universities. The chapter concludes with a discussion of challenges and opportunities going forward.