Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Active Teaching Strategies and Student Engagement: A Comparison of Traditional and Non-Traditional Business Students

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Active Teaching Strategies and Student Engagement: A Comparison of Traditional and Non-Traditional Business Students

Article excerpt


Advancement of digital teaching technologies and the increasing diversity of tertiary student enrolments from non-traditional backgrounds are some of the pressures pushing teachers to constantly review their methods for contemporary relevance and to cater for different learning styles (Jensen & Owen, 2003; Ahlfeldta et al., 2005; Tait, 2009). For a teacher to be effective across the continuum of learning styles, many studies suggest the adoption of active teaching methods (see, inter alia, Jensen & Owen, 2003; Kolb & Kolb, 2005; Velasco et al., 2012). Active teaching methods can broadly be defined as "instructional activities involving students doing things and thinking about what they are doing" (Bonwell & Eison, 1991, p. iii). It is believed that the utilisation of active teaching methods will immerse students more deeply within the learning experience, leading to greater student understanding and improved performance (Warren, 2003). Thus, its proponents state that teachers should encourage greater student participation and activities in class as well as private study (Salemi et al., 2001; Scott, 2005; Hawtrey, 2007). As such active teaching methods appear to fit neatly within the broad concept of student engagement, defined as "the students' psychological investment in and effort directed toward learning, understanding or mastering the knowledge, skills or crafts that academic work is intended to promote" (Newmann 1992, p. 12).

To our knowledge no studies have offered a comprehensive analysis of traditional and non-traditional students explicitly incorporating the link between student engagement and both its influences and consequences. Furthermore, nor has there been an explicit incorporation of active teaching strategies within a formal conceptual framework of student engagement. Therefore, this study fills a crucial gap in the literature by analysing traditional and non-traditional students, as well as the role of active teaching strategies, using Kahu's conceptual framework of student engagement.

The remainder of this paper is structured as follows: Section 2 provides a stylised depiction of Kahu's student engagement framework, followed by a discussion of comparative research pertaining to traditional versus non-tradition student engagement and performance in Section 3. An overview of active teaching methods is then provided in Section 4. Section 5 discusses the measures used in this study, followed by empirical results in Sections 6 and 7, followed by concluding remarks in Section 8.

Literature Review

Kahu's conceptual framework for student engagement

Fredricks et al. (2004) and Kahu (2013) emphasise the complexity and multifaceted nature of student engagement, uniting diverse threads of educational research to arrive at explanations for students' success. In particular, Kahu proposed a comprehensive and coherent conceptualisation of student engagement that incorporates both its antecedents (structural and psychosocial) and consequences (proximate and distal) (see Figure 1.). This framework has been used widely for empirical analyses of various aspects of student engagement (Kahu, 2014; Nelson et al., 2014; Maskell & Collins, 2017).

A unidirectional relationship is posited from structural to psychosocial influences as antecedents to student engagement. Structural influences are comprised of student background, support, family and lifeload (the sum of all the pressures a student has in their life), as is the University's culture, policies, curriculum, assessment and discipline. Similarly, psychosocial influences are categorised as University (teaching, support and workload), and student (motivation, skills, identity and efficacy).

In comparison, a bidirectional relationship exists between psychosocial influences and student engagement. In turn, student engagement is comprised of the three concepts of affect, cognition, and behaviour. …

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