PIDP 3250 Journal Entry 1


Journal Entry 1:  What Does Student Engagement Mean?


As described by, Elizabeth, F. Barkley in, “Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty” student engagement is, “a process and product that is experienced on a continuum and results from the synergistic interaction between motivation and active learning.” (Barkley, 2010, p. 8). She describes the existence of a lack of understanding and consensus of the term ‘student engagement’. She then introduces the double helix as a classroom-based model that can be utilized to understand student engagement.  She describes how the double helix constitutes a strain that represents active learning and one that represents motivation.  The two spirals, “ work together synergistically increasing in intensity and creating a dynamic phenomenon that is greater than the sum of their individual effects.“ (Barkley, 2010, p. 7). She touches on how engagement occurs on a continuum and how it starts when the two spirals intersect and how learners can have transformative peak learning experiences.


I recall saying out loud, “Ahhhhhhhhh!! Now that makes sense!” after reading through the description of double helix model of student engagement.  I felt that model presented made such a challenging concept easier to understand and I also recall thinking that chapter in its entirety was such an easy read; although, complex and real issues were presented.


As a dental hygienist and educator, I find it a challenge to engage my clients and learners in what information I am presenting. After reading through chapter 1 of the handbook I have come to realize how little I actually know and understand what engagement really means. However, I do understand perhaps better now-it the significance and complexity of active engagement in the learning process. If students are not truly learning, but merely regurgitating information without really understanding the significance and reasoning an incomplete understanding of the concepts exists. If the learners are not engaged in the learning then there will not be a deep-rooted understanding of the concepts presented. Consequently, the learners will be limited in utilizing the information presented to them. They will be unable to form their personal interpretations of the ideas and use the information in response to new scenarios/situations and challenges they may come across.


I feel that I need to take the time and educate myself further on what really encompasses the terms active engagement, motivation and learning.  I will actively seek out methods that educators use to engage, construct meaning and foster the development of a deeper understanding of the concepts are being presented to their students.  I have discovered this article online in which I feel is a great resource for me to understand and see what techniques other educators are utilizing in their classroom settings in order to engage their students (Johnson, 2012). There is quite a bit of feedback/responses posted under the article comment section. The comment section has many educators’’ feedback, thoughts and suggestions in response the article and engagement, motivation and learning. Something I am also very excited about is this course! This course will definitely help me develop a stronger foothold on what motivation, active learning, and engagement really mean and how I can utilize and foster them in my classroom. It will also serve as a great resource that I can refer to in the future.



Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Johnson, B. (2012). How Do We Know When Students Are Engaged?. Edutopia. Retrieved from:


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