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Connecting to “The What”: Engaging Approaches to Traditional Subject Matter

  • David J. Shernoff
Chapter
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Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)

Abstract

Teachers may understandably wonder how to facilitate student engagement in their particular topic. First, the chapter discussed the “what” of engagement—that is, exactly what it is we would like adolescents to be in engaged with to constitute “learning.” Towards this end, a five-stage model of engagement with learning is presented as a useful heuristic for the forms of content with which individuals engage at each stage of development. The model suggests that a primary developmental learning goal in the adolescent years is learning domain-specific talents and skills, a type of learning that is primarily episodic—that is learned through experiential “episodes” characterized by immersion in a self-encapsulated meaning system involving movement, rhythm, action, and logic. Then, a model is presented for engaging students in each of the core academic subjects: history, social studies, English, science, and math. For example, Wilhelm provided a model of teaching English literature in which “resistant readers” were reached through role plays and other dramatic and artistic activities in which students felt to be “actually” interacting with the characters, forming a deeper understanding of the author’s perspective and existential questions. As individuals transition into emerging adulthood, a primary developmental goal becomes engagement in vocational or professional mastery. Becoming engaged in a profession typically occurs within a community of practice, or in the context of daily practice of a shared domain of human endeavor with other like-minded professionals. This was modeled in the example for science teaching. Evidence of increased engagement during these approaches was supported through associated empirical studies.

Keywords

Conceptual Understanding Civic Engagement Engagement Structure Civic Education Experience Sampling Method 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Shernoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations College of EducationNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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