What Researchers Discovered About Student Engagement?



Do any of your students lack enthusiasm for learning and completing the tasks you set them?

If so, you’re not alone.

As educators we want to feel like we’re teaching students who care about their education and school work. But the sad truth is many teachers experience just the opposite, with many youngsters less than enthusiastic about their learning. This can lead to an array of difficulties in schools.

Gallup recently published some troubling statistics. According to a recent poll, only 55% of all students are engaged enough to succeed in school.

Why does this matter?

Because engagement – your students’ involvement in and enthusiasm for school – is a crucial quality that’s proven to distinguish between high-performing and low-performing schools.

Research shows that engagement is more important than IQ and natural talent. Along with hope and wellbeing, engagement is now known to be a more accurate predictor of future success than high school grades, GPA, SAT and ACT scores.

So for your students to do well, earn the grades they want and land well-paid jobs, it helps greatly if they are engaged in their studies.

With only 55% of all students engaged in school, something clearly needs to be done quickly to improve the situation.

Positive relationships are at the core of all success, and this includes positive working relationships between students and teachers, not just at subject level but also, and crucially,
at mentor and professional interest levels too.


So why are more kids than ever failing to feel interested and motivated in school? Simply put, not enough students are receiving the inspiration they need.

Quality of Leadership + Quality of Teaching = Level of Engagement

Gallup has proven that student engagement is directly linked to teacher performance. When you have engaging leaders and engaging teachers in schools, you get more engaged students. No surprises there!

Unfortunately, research shows that increasing numbers of educators are disengaged in their work. Inevitably, this has a negative effect on the quality of their performance, which in turn, has a negative effect on the levels of student engagement.

Of course, none of this is done deliberately or maliciously. Nevertheless, the research shows it’s happening, and something needs to be done to change the situation before more students slip through the system.


We can’t wait for students to improve their own levels of engagement, and it would be foolish to wait for parents or politicians to fix the problem because we’ll be waiting a very long time!

Educators need to take control of the situation. Thankfully, there are many simple things we can do to improve student engagement. We

encourage you to take matters into your own hands, and we encourage you to do it NOW.


Gallup says we need a new approach to teacher recruitment and training, one that places more emphasis on the attributes that a proven to lead to positive student outcomes – an approach that gives educators the inspirational communication skills needed to improve student engagement.

Easier said than done? Maybe. But with so much riding on our students’ futures, can we afford to do otherwise?


As General Norman Schwartzkopf once explained so well:

“Leadership is about getting people to willingly do more than they normally would.”

That’s what our students need us to do… inspire them to willingly do more in school than they normally would.

So how do you do that?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Lead by example: Students are often shocked when they see how their teachers conduct themselves on training courses and CPD sessions (e.g. turn up late without the right equipment, slouching in their seats, chatting amongst themselves whilst the facilitator is speaking, playing with their phones, not taking notes, etc.). It is essential for educators to maintain the highest professional standards at all time because our students are more likely to be engaged in their development when they see that we are engaged in our own development.

  2. Show your students that you are enthusiastic about your profession and invested in your work. Let them see that you are constantly making efforts to be innovative and always striving to improve the delivery of your lessons.

  3. Teach with passion. Demonstrate through your range of vocabulary, voice qualities and body language how excited you are about what you teach. That energy will rub off on your students and help increase engagement.

  4. Don’t wait for ‘inspirational communication skills’ and ‘effective leadership strategies’ to come up on your school’s in-house CPD plan. Instead, learn for yourself how to be the inspirational and engaging communicator your students need you to be.

Be Unstoppable!

Kevin Mincher


Useful Resources

Daniel Goleman’s book, The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership

certainly gives some great tips you can use and adapt to help inspire your students.




Copyright 2015, Unstoppable Schools Ltd.

All rights to the written elements of this article are reserved.