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Engaging students in the Curriculum at Galway Business School: Are we all on the same page?

Author Seona Joyce
Abstract As a result of growing up in the digital era, today's students have distinct ways of communicating and new perceptions of what it means to learn in Higher Education (HE). This has raised many questions for third level educators around how best to develop and deliver curricula to engage modern students in everyday practice. A clear understanding of the concept of student engagement and of the factors influencing student engagement can provide important insight in this regard. To gain a practical and a theoretical understanding of how the curriculum can be developed to enhance student engagement, an exploratory case study was undertaken at Galway Business School (GBS). The case qualitatively explored how lecturers and students at the institute conceptualised and experienced student engagement in the curriculum. Informed by extant literature on engagement, this paper presents the key findings from narratives collected through semi-structured interviews with lecturers and a focus group with students. Information obtained from the analysis and comparison of the narratives is used to inform curricular and teaching decisions. Research results revealed a wide variance in interpretations and experiences of student engagement in the curriculum. Lecturers were found to focus on engaging students in their studies only (academically and intellectually), while students also considered engaging socially or having a sense of belonging with the school important to their learning. To facilitate engaging students in practice there was unanimous support for a conceptualisation of engagement in line with flow theory (Shernoff et al, 2003). This theory suggests that for students to be fully engaged they must experience interest, concentration and enjoyment simultaneously. Based on theoretical and research findings the paper argues that student engagement levels can be considered throughout the curriculum and proposes a multi-centric model, which describes how each element of the curriculum can be approached to enhance student engagement.
Keywords Student engagement, curriculum development, student and lecturer experiences, pedagogy, changing HE landscape
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2014
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