There are many ways students learn and become engaged in schools. Each student has a predominant way they become engaged, and none of the ways should be ignored in a given classroom. In order to understand these different ways, I have adapted Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory.
Following is a description of each style of student engagement, and an exploration of how it can be activated to engage students in classrooms and throughout education.
MULTIPLE ENGAGEMENT STYLES
VERBAL ENGAGEMENT: Students who become engaged through linguistics focus on language and how it is used. They might remember names, places and dates easily and spell words quickly. Student Engagement activities can focus on words, sounds and meanings and spend a lot of time reading and writing.
MUSICAL ENGAGEMENT: Students who become engaged through music focus on music, rhythm and pitch. They concentrate more when music is played, sing to themselves a lot or make up songs to remember details. Student engagement activities involve these students in making music, analyzing music and teaching other people music.
LOGICAL-MATHEMATICAL ENGAGEMENT: Engaging students through logic and math means focus on patterns, numbers and logical relationships. They are good at math problems, puzzles and mental challenges. Student engagement approaches can use computers, graphic design and logic activities.
VISUAL-SPATIAL ENGAGEMENT: Students who become engaged through spatial awareness focus on shapes, locations and distances. They are good designers and builders. Student engagement approaches can focus on community planning, building design and creating charts and maps.
BODILY-KINESTHETIC ENGAGEMENT: Engaging students through physical action focus on physical skills and movement. They are good actors, athletes and craftspeople who do not like to sit still. Student engagement activities teach these young people through constant activity.
INTERPERSONAL ENGAGEMENT: Students who become engaged through interpersonal activities focus on understanding and dealing with other people. They are very social, often trying to understand peoples’ motives and feelings. Student engagement approaches can focus on communication and give young people opportunities to organize their communities.
INTRAPERSONAL ENGAGEMENT: Engaging students through intrapersonal activities means focusing on helping young people understand themselves. They are self-sufficient, confident and opinionated and do things on their own. Student engagement programs can empower students by giving them more control of their surroundings and through self-driven activities.
NATURALISTIC ENGAGEMENT: When a student engages best in their natural surroundings, they are a naturalistic engager. This includes doing natural projects with animals and plants, learning about different species, or walking through the outdoors. They are sensitive and ethical and want to understand the holistic ways the world works, as well as its complexities–including the role of humanity within the greater ecosphere.
EXISTENTIAL ENGAGEMENT: Students who are deeply spiritually engaged or understand the world best through a connection with all other things are existentially engaged. They are deeply spiritual, frequently seeing the interconnections of man and nature, looking for purpose and passion in activities, ideas and outcomes. Student engagement activities can empower students by enabling their deeper understanding and giving them space to practice their style.