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Annual Distinguished Lecture - Sponsoring Intellectual Engagement

Teacher support key to student success

December 20, 2011 - The concept of student engagement first emerged in the late 1980s, and although some of the early research focused on demographic and social risk factors and placed student engagement primarily within the realm of psychology, researchers have, within the past two decades, turned their attention to studying various other aspects of student engagement.

This has resulted in the subject of student engagement emerging as a multifaceted, multidimensional concept with specific connections to social, academic and intellectual environments.

Since 2009, Dr. Sharon Friesen and colleagues have been building on the research of many prior researchers, and focusing on three constructs over a three year research and development period, they have delved deeply into what makes for successful student engagement in Canadian secondary school students.

"The first area we considered was social engagement, or a sense of belonging and participation in school life," says Friesen, vice dean of the Werklund School of Education. "We also looked at academic engagement—participation in the formal requirements of schooling. The third area we researched was intellectual engagement, which consists of a serious emotional and cognitive investment in learning, using higher order thinking skills--such as analysis and evaluation--to increase understanding, solve complex problems, or construct new knowledge."

Friesen discussed her work at the faculty's Annual Distinguished Research Lecture on October 6 at the Rozsa Centre in her talk entitled "I Hold in My Hand a Bird: Sponsoring Intellectual Engagement". Friesen says the topic is of interest to anyone who works with young adults—including university instructors.

"As teachers and instructors, we know that people learn best when trying to do things that are challenging and of deep interest to them, reflecting the close interplay of the emotional in cognition and the development of capacity," explains Friesen. " Our research into intellectual engagement indicates that it is the teacher or instructor who creates the conditions from which intellectual engagement emerges."

The lecture was attended by more than 70 people, and a reception followed.

Dennis Sumara Michele Jacobsen

Introduction by Dean Dennis Sumara and Michele Jacobsen.

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Sharon Friesen

Dr. Sharon Friesen lecture on Sponsoring Intellectual Engagement.

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Click here for the Powerpoint Presentation (PDF 25 MB)