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Project documentation

Categories and processes

On reviewing the workshop data, we found the following categories and associated processes… The categories correspond with those listed in our previous blog, though sometimes they carry a different label.


  • Assessment that is designed to be student-centred and relevant 
  • Curricula that are educationally sound
  • Teaching techniques that are collaborative, real-world, student-centred and technology-enabled 
  • Pedagogical style that is enquiry-based and work integrated


  • Information about programs, courses, milestones and student support services
  • Services & resources related to assistance with finances, and personal and academic capabilities
  • People rich access to personal advice, advocacy and peer support


  • Interaction involving personal and engaging communication with staff, involvement with other students, and professional and social connections
  • Inclusive activities that are equitable, culturally rich interactions in the university and wider communities
  • Identity development opportunities in the areas of  professional, student and leadership development


  • Academic literacies that focus on embedded peer-to-peer learning and academic skills development. 
  • Personal literacies that develop personal and professional attributes within the curricula
  • Activities that cross staffing, student lifecycle, functional and student/staff boundaries


  • Staff development in student engagement
  • Roles and responsibilities which engender engagement
  • Evidence base which is collected, analysed and disseminated to influence staff practice
  • Communication which is enabled by procedures and social media tools
  • Learning environments where spaces, resources and access enable learning
We would be interested to hear if these are representative of your experience. 

Engagement key categories

We’ve found five key categories of student engagement in the literature:

PROGRAMS & COURSES THAT ENGAGE STUDENTS IN LEARNING e.g. Develop / implement “authentic assessment”; Develop / implement “educationally productive” curricula; Develop / implement collaborative and student-centred learning and teaching practices; Course quality processes…

ACCESS TO SUPPORT e.g. Make proactive contact with students to monitor engagement; Provide timely information, advice and guidance on learning and life resources, activities and professional services; Harness corporate data…

SENSE OF BELONGING e.g. Interactions between and within student and staff groups; Inclusive practices and the valuing of diversity; Connections with professions / industry; Connections with discipline activities and research programs; Develop a “successful student” identity in students; Develop “the self” in students…

HOLISTIC DESIGN AND APPROACH e.g. Promote whole-of-university or university-wide activities; Initiatives that connect student learning, teaching and professional staff with student services and support; Promote academic-professional staff partnerships and cooperation; Recognising the centrality of learning…

INFRASTRUCTURE & SUPPORT e.g. Professional development of staff /capacity building; Develop and implement policy and practices for the promotion of student engagement; Provide physical and virtual facilities and resources to enable student engagement; Develop or use L&T research; Evidence base to support initiative design…

Our task now is to review these in the light of practices recorded in the workshops.

Do these categories seem to cover the breadth of engagement activities in your institution?


We have now run four workshops to collect data from practitioners, at:

  • Southern Cross Uni (Lismore) – a pilot, however producing useful data in itself
  • Queensland University of Technology (Gardens Point)
  • University of Queensland (St Lucia)
  • Griffith University (Mt Gravatt)

Altogether, workshop participants contributed over 1,000 practices which help form the foundation of the model… for example:

  • use of U-tube and video examples to demonstrate what teaching or link between theory and practice
  • real time engagement in lectures e.g. Clickers etc, paper planes, use of text messages to capture and display student thinking during lectures
  • lots of group work e.g. ‘speed-dating game’… One half of room gets ‘term’ or ‘concept’ other half of room has definition and have to turn around and find partner
  • “the anti depressant song”… lecturer made song about antidepressants to help students learn topic… went viral on U-tube, increased exam success
  • compulsory tutorials… tied in to quizzes 10% of final mark
  • early engagement of students… by week 2 they need to complete an online orientation “treasure hunt”
  • co-ordinated delivery of first year units, ensuring manageable assessment timetable
  • make every staff member of the uni do a course in intercultural communication
  • videos which feature international students talking about their experiences, eg “I could not hand in an assessment as I was sick so I…”
  • English support easily accessible and free
  • uniform template for 1st year websites to reduce student confusion
  • write to all students who have HD’s congratulating them on their performance
  • review and improve on current processes and procedures in relation to client services
  • first assignment first year to be early and relatively simple
  • show progression from first to third year, make links and demonstrate relevance of courses and content
  • invite senior students and first years to have breakfast so students think they will have friends
  • attend conferences and seminars to find out about practices in other institutions to adapt

Our job now is to group these into institutional processes.

Speak! React! Contribute!

We welcome comment concerning student engagement, success and retention.

Talk to us… your colleagues… the world about what you’re thinking.

Make a constructive contribution, a radical representation, an over-the-top observation… We’d love to hear from you.