Aerial view of Washington Square Park at sunset

Three Types of Engagement


In the online environment, you might prioritize facilitating learning over content delivery. Additionally, you will need to build social presence by using diverse forms of communication: announcements, personal messaging (via email or the learning management system), providing written or verbal feedback, and participating in discussion. Planned, regular, as well as spontaneous student-instructor engagement help to form a deeply connected, engaged community.

QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT CONSIDER when thinking about this kind of engagement include:

  • How are you connecting with your students in large-format classes?
  • How do you encourage effective and accountable collaboration?
  • What sort of communication is most effective?


Providing space for students to interact, collaborate, and broadly get to know each other is crucial. Students thrive in the community created by these activities and that community fosters learning. Interaction and collaboration also allow students to observe your behaviors and other students’ behaviors. They can then imitate those that lead to achievement, whether they are good study habits, participation in discussions, or anything else.

QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT CONSIDER when thinking about this kind of engagement include:

  • How do you encourage students to connect with each other online?
  • How do students collaborate?
  • How do you model and encourage communication among students?


We don’t often think of reading, watching, or listening as a means of engagement. But student engagement with content is integral to their learning. Students might be disengaged with content because it is at the wrong level (too easy or too hard), not in a format that is accessible to them, or it represents life experiences that are not relatable. Reviewing your content and asking for student feedback will help you choose materials that promote engagement. Additionally, providing students with guided and independent means of engaging with content is crucial to helping them make meaning of it.

QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT CONSIDER when thinking about this kind of engagement include:

  • How can you deliver content that students can connect to?
  • How can you make certain students engage with the content while working together?
  • How can you best communicate what is important about course content?

Source note:  Some of the material in this section was sourced from Trifecta of Student Engagement: A framework for an online teaching professional development course for faculty in higher education by Heather J. Leslie, published in Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning (2019).