Student engagement

“Student engagement” means many things to different people. Penn State has talked about what student engagement means to the institution since 2008. These conversations, task force reports, and documentation has resulted in a specific way of thinking about these opportunities and our role in supporting our students. In order to understand this research, you have to understand the context in which we are working within.

On this site, and in this research project, when we say “student engagement” we mean:

  • Our focus is on an undergraduate student;
  • Who is required to put forth a level of effort, investment, & motivation to be “engaged;”
  • This effort results in a project/activity/experience for a length of time that is often loosely tied or connected to their academic pursuits; and
  • We (as institutions) also are required to invest in these experiences because we believe these engagement opportunities are meaningful and provide long term impacts to our students

In addition, for the libraries, student engagement can mean:

  • An opportunity for the library to be involved with these experiences through giving students the information literacy skills they need to be information savvy citizens;
  • The library can showcase our expertise in teaching and learning to the institution;
  • We continue to provide space and resources that support student engagement;
  • An opportunity for the library to move beyond a transaction role to partner with students to create library-centered, student engagement experiences

We also understand that beyond the identified types of student engagement, there is often a spectrum of experiences that lead to these opportunities. We hope that throughout this project, our definition of student engagement will both be confirmed and challenged. We believe this definition is iterative and will change as we understand how students take part in these opportunities.

To learn more about our conceptual ideas around student engagement, please consult our Student Engagement Reading List.