Student Engagement Challenge 3

Hello Chico Faculty! (hey, it’s still Tuesday, right??)

I am so excited for Week 3 of the Student Engagement Challenge, as it has one of my favorite assignments that will work in ANY class. 

This week, we will focus on getting students excited about your material. We are going to help you create an easy assignment to implement that allows students to explore their connections with your content and your discipline.

The next Pillar of Engagement is Getting your students excited about learning. This one can be tricky, especially if you teach a required course that everyone has to take.

So, how do we get students excited about our content? First of all, the energy and excitement you bring to class and your content influence how your students feel about it. While this plays a huge role, a personal connection to the content DRIVES engagement. 

Challenge 3: Pillar 2 – Personal Course Connection – Time: 5-10 minutes to assign – As an assignment, this works synchronously or asynchronously. 

This week’s assignment is inspired by ideas in Flower Darby’s Small Teaching Online book, with just a slight twist. You can check her book out by clicking the link below – it’s an excellent read for anyone wanting to make their online teaching more impactful. 

Access a digital version of Small Teaching Online, by Flower Darby. Chiara worked hard to get everyone access to it. Be sure to say thanks!

Ask your students to do one of the three following tasks:

  • Find Two Current Resources – Students find and post two current resources related to the recent course content or topics. These can be online news posts, blogs, podcasts, youtube videos, Tik-Tok, infographics, etc., as long as they are related to your class and informative. 
  • Find an Expert – Students find a leader in their chosen career path and reach out to them for a chat or curate a portfolio of the leader’s work they would like to learn from. 
  • Develop a Personal Learning Network – Students follow, subscribe, or connect to 3 individuals they can learn from and ask at least one content-related question they have. 

I have a ready-to-use Assignment Template for you to use (It’s a google doc).

Take it up a notch: Have a google doc ready to go (or use Zoom Chat) at the start of class and ask students to share their resources, who their expert was, or someone in their learning network with a sentence or two about its relevance to the course and why they chose it. 

Just like that, you’ve helped students draw connections between course content and their interests. You have also given them avenues to pursue the content on their own and supporting them in chasing down their goals. That sounds a lot like Pillar 3… TWO FOR ONE BONUS!

This is one of my favorite assignments. Allowing student autonomy to navigate their interests surrounding your topics is always a hit! 

Dustin Bakkie 
FDEV Faculty Fellow
Lecturer, Kinesiology


  • Join the Go Virtual Community meetings (every Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in Zoom)

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