Two Strategies for Student Engagement in Higher Education

by Jessica Perkins | March 15, 2017
Two Strategies for Student Engagement in Higher Education

I recently got back from the NASPA Annual Conference for Student Affairs Administrators, where a hot topic and buzzword was engagement. Specifically, student engagement strategies. How do we engage students? Why do they become disengaged? What does the word engagement even really mean? With these questions buzzing around in my head, I turned to the National Survey of Student Engagement for some answers.

NSSE recognizes six key High-Impact Practices (HIPs) for engaging students, two of which are especially relevant to student affairs. Let’s explore these two practices to see how higher education institutions can use technology to meet engagement goals.


We get it: college is busy! There are classes, internships, clubs, social activities, and so much more competing for even a thin slice of a student’s day. Community-based projects are rarely at the forefront of students’ minds. However, service-learning is a great way to engage students in their coursework and their communities.

Since every organization runs its own volunteer program and every program has its own requirements, there’s not much consistency when it comes to finding and applying for volunteer positions.

Students don’t always know what they should be looking for or how they should go about connecting with the right people at the right organizations. Institutions can make it easier for students to connect with meaningful service-learning opportunities by texting students with targeted information about upcoming volunteer opportunities. Service-learning opportunities are more powerful when they relate to students’ majors because students get to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world situations. It’s easier to be engaged in coursework when you know how your education connects to other areas of your life.

Study Abroad

As a two-time study abroad student, I remember how confused and stressed I was during the application processes. But I also remember how incredible my experiences were! Studying abroad exposes students to new and diverse people and places. It pushes students to be open-minded, inventive, and resourceful – all challenging skills that keep students engaged.

You can help more students take advantage of study abroad programs by breaking down a complicated process into simple, time-sensitive chunks. Telling students about one big task coming up can be overwhelming. Instead, send them frequent reminders about the smaller pieces that make up the bigger task. For example, send separate messages at separate times about visa requirements, transcripts, and essays rather than sending one big message about the overall application package. As a result, students are able to better manage deadlines and can prioritize activities based on urgency. 

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