Field trips, friendships and societies: Exploring student engagement in the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Student engagement in Higher Education is increasingly seen as having a critical influence on achievement and overall university experience. However, engagement is predominantly evaluated through survey instruments, and in-depth studies of small student populations that explore the dynamics of the construct, and diversity of student experiences are currently lacking. This paper addresses this gap by exploring student perspectives of the factors impacting student engagement in the School of Earth and Environment, [University]. Focus groups were held with students across six degree programmes and four years of study and data were analysed using Kahu’s (2013) conceptual framework of engagement, antecedents and consequences. Findings emphasise prominent feedback loops between and within the various elements of the framework. In the School of Earth and Environment, key enablers of positive feedback loops are field trips, friendships and societies, which interact dynamically with inter alia increased sense of belonging and community. These, in turn, lead to motivation, confidence, deeper learning, further positive relationships and further engagement. Future student engagement initiatives should therefore seek to nurture and develop community to promote positive engagement feedback loops.
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