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December 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 6

ISSN 1755-9715

Student Engagement in Teaching EAP with Learning Technologies

Vicky Papageorgiou is an ESL/EAP Lecturer with over 25 years of experience with mainly adult learners. Her fields of interest are ESL and Art, technology enhanced learning,  creativity and Inquiry Based learning. She  currently divides her time between Greece and the UK working as an adjunct lecturer. She often publishes articles in International newsletters and Journals and is also a conference presenter. She is also a co-editor at ELTA Serbia Publications a member of the IATEFL Pubs Committee. Email:


As Universities continue increasingly to utilise online instruction,  more emphasis is placed on the non-traditional student engagement in online courses.  How can we enhance student focus, attention and interaction? Interactivity seems to be a key in keeping students involved and achieving. In doing so we need to work with specific  activities routinely favoured by students. This is time well spent and worthwhile and results in greater course satisfaction and academic effort.

Student engagement has become a priority for university instructors, because ‘disengagement in school  is widespread’ (Bundick, Quaglia, Corso & Haywood, 2014, p. 1). While this has been a problem in physical classrooms the past few years, it  has also received attention since the transition to online learning during the quarantine. It is easy for all of us to recall instances when student log in to a zoom meeting but do not turn on their cameras or participate poorly during a session.

Another reason why this has become an important topic is because there is relatively little data about the level of engagement of adult graduate school learners in a non-residential context (Gilardi & Guglielmetti, 2011).


What is ‘student engagement’?

In education, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education (Great Schools Partnership, n.d.)


Why is student sngagement important?

Positive student engagement in class is considered to lead to a positive change in student behaviour (Reeve, 2012). In order for us to ensure this happens, a strong instructional presence is necessary not only in synchronous online learning environments but in asynchronous instructional settings as well during all the stages of instruction. In fact, it is really significant  so that students recognize that the instructor is engaged, thus encouraging students to be engaged. The instructor also needs to provide appropriate incentives for interactions among the participants in the course.



There are, in fact, three stages during which we should provide all these incentives that will reinforce student engagement.


Prior to class activities

  • Opening the class session needs to be done in an inviting, welcoming, motivating way: quick interactive activities that are fun and engaging (quick warm-up speaking activities involving photos, for example, in pairs – duration 5-10’)


During sessions

  • There should also be a variety of tasks, variety of apps,  such as : online polls, fun quizzes even if a topic discussed is quite theoretical (use quizziz, quizlet, Kahoot, Wordwall)
  • Interspersing instructor lectures and activities with short student presentations keeps students focused and allows for rich discussions.
  • Mini projects or tasks in groups : During preparation/planning time, make use of breakout rooms along with google docs, padlet or jamboards to monitor students’ progress. The instructor should leave comments during the session as well as after the session and engage in a ‘discussion’ with students regarding the mini project (suggest ideas, motivate them to move towards a specific direction, etc.)


Post-sessions (asynchronous)

  • Organise a group discussion on a controversial topic outside class, divide groups, assign clear and distinct roles, arrange for one of students to monitor attendance of everyone/arrange the meeting hour, and small details. Ask them to record the discussion and post it later to padlet. Or ask them to write a short summary of it and post it to padlet.
  • Ask them to visit other students’ padlets and leave constructive comments on specific tasks
  • Ask them to evaluate specific tasks (use a rubric for this purpose).


Other instances outside class time

  • Establish virtual office hours to help you establish a relationship with students over distance
  • In general, help create an environment during class that promotes learning, supports dignity and shows mutual respect for everyone, thus increasing engagement for all.



Adult student engagement has been and will continue to be of interest to instructors and researchers especially when related to online instruction. Students just joining a Zoom class is not enough. Nor is it enough to have  a functioning audio and video system, with the expectation but they need to prove they are active during class as well as outside class. The instructor’s presence is pivotal in ensuring this as this is the person who will motivate them to engage actively  in the learning process. Finally, we also need to provide the means to help students participate actively in the asynchronous learning activities and engage actively with other learners in discussions and projects, thus providing students opportunities to   demonstrate their own learning of content.



Bundick, M. J., Quaglia, R. J., Corso, M. J., & Haywood, D. E. (2014). Promoting student engagement in the classroom. Teachers College Record, 116(4), 1–34.

Gilardi, S., & Guglielmetti, C. (2011). University life of non-traditional students: Engagement styles and impact on attrition. The Journal of Higher Education, 82(1), 33–53.

Great Schools Partnership. (n. d.). Student engagement. Retrieved from

Reeve, J. (2012). A self-determination theory perspective on student engagement. In S. L. Christenson, A. L. Reschly, & C.Wylie (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Student Engagement (pp. 149–172). New York, NY: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-2018-7_7


Please check the Pilgrims f2f courses at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Pilgrims online courses at Pilgrims website.

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  • Instagram - A Useful Tool
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  • Student Engagement in Teaching EAP with Learning Technologies
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