Keeping Us Engaged

Student Perspectives (and Research-Based Strategies) on What Works and Why

Christine Harrington and 50 College Students
Foreword by José Antonio Bowen
February 2021
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • ISBN 9781642670813
  • Language English
  • Pages 192 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
February 2021
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • ISBN 9781642670806
  • Language English
  • Pages 192 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
E-Book (ePub)
February 2021
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • ISBN 9781642670837
  • Language English
  • Pages 192 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
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February 2021
More details
  • Publisher
    Stylus Publishing
  • ISBN 9781642670820
  • Language English
  • Pages 192 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

This book offers faculty practical strategies to engage students that are grounded in research and endorsed by students themselves.  Through student stories, a signature feature of this book, readers will discover why professor actions result in changed attitudes, stronger connections to others and the course material, and increased learning.

Structured to cover the key moments and opportunities to increase student engagement, Christine Harrington covers the all-important first day of class where first impressions can determine students’ attitudes for the duration of the course, through to insights for rethinking assignments and enlivening teaching strategies, to ways of providing feedback that build students’ confidence and spur them to greater immersion in their studies, providing the underlying rationale for the strategies she presents. The student narratives not only validate these practices, offering their perspectives as learners, but constitute a trove of ideas and practices that readers will be inspired to adapt for their particular needs.

Conscious of the changing demographics of today’s undergraduate and graduate students – racially more diverse, older, and many employed – Harrington highlights the need to engage all students and shares numerous strategies on how to do so. While many of the ideas presented were used by faculty teaching face to face classes, a number were developed by faculty teaching online, and the majority can be adapted to virtually any teaching environment.

Based on student-centered active learning principles, structured to allow readers to quickly identify practices that they may need in particular instances or to infuse in a course as a whole, and presented without jargon, this book is a springboard for all faculty looking for ideas that will engage their students at any level and in any course.

"Student voices matter to shape an educational experience that best supports student learning. Dr. Harrington's book is rich in the theory of what makes for an excellent classroom environment. But what distinguishes the book is the detailed stories told by students that illustrate, so compellingly, the value of engagement. Students describe how faculty have created learning environments that help them navigate the messiness of education in ways that are not only supported by what we know about how students learn, but also by the phenomenological experience of so many students from so many different backgrounds. This book is a terrific read for anyone who cares about students and their effective learning in higher education."

Chris Hakala, Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship / Professor of Psychology - Springfield College

Keeping Us Engaged is beneficial for both novice and seasoned educators. It includes foundational strategies that characterize what it means to an effective educator. The student narratives provide perspectives that reinforce the strategies and clearly translate the practices from theory to impact. The guiding questions at the end of each chapter encourage reflection that hopefully will lead to improved student outcomes. This book should be included in all teacher education programs.”

Tia Brown McNair, Ed.D., Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the TRHT Campus Centers, Association of American Colleges & Universities

"We know now that engagement, motivation and trust are prerequisites for learning and here, at last, is a guide for what really matters to students. Here is the texture, detail and nuance to the broad picture we have gained from pedagogical research. It is especially useful to hear about the unanticipated benefits from things we do. Most faculty, for example, can see the value of an icebreaker to share something on the syllabus that interests you (page 16), but I, at least, did not anticipate that students would also find this a good way to acknowledge their fears and feel more connected. If we really want to put students first, these stories are transformative.

Our guide is the sensitive, prolific and clear-eyed Professor Christine Harrington. Her many books, research, good advice and deep caring for students proceed her. Her work has always been both scholarly and practical, and this is another book full of insight that is immediately applicable. Still, you will be astonished at how many simple things you can do tomorrow. Rarely have I read a book where on almost every page I said (usually in sequence), 'a ha,' 'now I get it,' and finally, 'I must do that'."

José Bowen, President, - Bowen Innovation Group L.L.C.

“This comprehensive collection of engagement strategies uniquely makes transparent the essential partnership between learning and engagement. Throughout, the reader travels beyond techniques to recognize the multi-faceted constellation of course design components as thresholds into effective engagement. Each chapter grounds strategies with rationales, current literature, and provocative reflection questions for the instructor. Teaching confidence expands as knowing why and how engagement works and its essential role in learning are authentically narrated as students uniquely teach us.”

Connie Schroeder, Senior Consultant for Instructional and Organizational Development, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


1) Engaging Students on the First Day of Class
2) Creating a Sense of Belonging
3) Generating Excitement
4) Developing Knowledge and Skills
5) Using the Syllabus as an Engagement Tool
6) Faculty Reflection Questions

7) Connecting with Students During Class
8) Interacting with Students Outside of Class
9) Assisting Students Struggling with Personal Challenges
10) Serving as Career Mentors
11) Helping Students Build a Professional Network
12) Faculty Reflection Questions

13) Making it Personal
14) Using Demonstrations
15) Using Collaborative Activities
16) Discussions
17) Group Projects
18) Faculty Reflection Questions

19) Building Foundational Knowledge
20) Using Authentic Assignments to Promote Learning
21) Pushing Students Outside their Comfort Zone
22) Fostering Creativity
23) Service Learning
24) Faculty Reflection Questions

25) Formative Assessment Opportunities
26) Incorporating Peer Feedback Opportunities
27) Giving Students Opportunities to Revise
28) Providing Feedback to High-Achieving Students
29) Faculty Reflection Questions

About the Author

Christine Harrington

Dr. Christine Harrington is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at New Jersey City University. She co-coordinates a newly established Ed.D. in Community College Leadership program. Prior to this position, she worked at Middlesex County College for 18 years as a Professor of Psychology and Student Success, the Director of the Center for the Enrichment of Learning and Teaching, Coordinator of Student Success and a Counselor. She also served a 2-year term as the Executive Director of the Center for Student Success at the NJ Council of County Colleges. Dr. Harrington is frequently invited to present at conferences and at colleges and universities.

higher education; teaching; pedagogy; student engagement; student feedback; teaching strategies; assignments;; motivation; active learning