As an instructor, you undoubtedly do your best to provide your students with a meaningful and engaging learning experience that helps them get the most out of your courses (and their college experience as a whole). But how do students define the elements of an engaging classroom experience? Though the precise answer may differ slightly from student to student, and from subject to subject, many commonalities will surface among their answers.

Today, we’ve featured several students’ responses to the question: How do your instructors get you engaged in your classes? Their unique answers provide insight into the various ways that students enjoy experiencing learning in their courses. Read their responses below!

What activities have proven to engage students in your classes? What has been their response to those strategies? Share your experiences and insights in the comments section below. And if you’re a student, and want to share your ideas, feel free to add them as well!


What engages college students in their courses


“The best classes are where I am able to learn and apply them to real situations and engage in the classroom instead of just sitting there. In one of my favorite business classes, my professor engages our class through telling us real stories or situations that are current today. By doing so, I remember the concepts and understand the fundamental of the principles being taught. Another professor engages us in the classroom by creating assigned small groups and assigning us to present as a group bi-weekly on a topic. It’s a topic we discuss further in class. By giving a presentation, we give a deeper look on the subject and meet new classmates. The visuals on the presentations as well as doing individual research help me grasp the concept.”

—Rebecca Mezzich, Student, Dominican University (River Forest, IL)


“In culinary school, you’re just automatically engaged for a variety of reasons—every day is different, lots of hands on, physical work that engages all of the senses…. I really liked the international classes. My chef would show us videos of markets in each country. And for my French class, videos of techniques.”

—Kim Soltero, Student, Johnson & Wales University (Princeton, RI)


“Student engagement is a feat that so many professors think is relatively impossible. Well, here I am saying that this is UNTRUE. Professors tend to have this notion that students are lazy and don’t care. While this is true of a lot of students, I am going to speak for the majority who take academia seriously. WE CARE, TRUST ME. We want to stay awake and pay attention in class—help us out a bit, though. Engaging us doesn’t take much… all we ask is that dense lectures are not a regular occurrence.

Personally, I love when professors use technology in the classroom to facilitate both lectures and discussions. Being connected to the news, media, as well as going as far to communicate with other academic authorities via Skype or what have you have been some of the most enriching and enjoyable academic experiences I have had throughout college. Technology takes a flat classroom experience and makes it three dimensional in multiple ways. This makes for much, much more enjoyable classes and makes us want to research and study more outside of the classroom. WHAT? Engagement both inside and outside of the classroom? Yes, that’s right, it can be achieved! Technology is awesome that way. We are a technological society and a growing technological world… it is our future. So why not use our future to help teach us what we need to know to function in it? It’s kind of awesome that way.​”

—Joy Hamilton, Student, University of Dayton (Dayton, OH)


“As a student, I only want to learn what is practical and applicable. After having so many instructors that only teach from the book dating decades back, you start to lose motivation and any credibility for the instructor. Students not only absorb the information that is being taught, but the attitude from which it is being taught.

I have, however, been fortunate enough to have instructors that do motivate their students. They engage students conversationally, apply what we already know and work around it to expand our minds to what we didn’t. They don’t limit themselves to teach what we have to know, but also what to think about. They challenge the framework of our thought process, take us out of our comfort zone, and help us grow into cognitive thinkers. Being able to apply this skill is something most valuable towards any career and more.”

—Debbie Lee, Student, DePaul University (Chicago, IL)


“I think for a professor to engage students they must be enthusiastic, intelligent and UP TO DATE. Becoming engaged and being enthusiastic means using more than one medium and trying new things: books, articles, digital supplements and even hands-on activities. There is nothing more difficult to follow than a professor who is behind in the times and unenthusiastic about his/her work.”

—Monica Rosenberg, Student, State University at Oneonta (Oneonta, NY)