Student engagement is the psychological investment a student makes in learning. This includes the degree to which a student actively participates in academic and cocurricular activities on the campus, pursuing contact with faculty outside the classroom, involvement in civic activities and service learning, and participation in cocurricular learning.
Strategic planning for curriculum and campus activities that engage students requires broad collaboration across campus divisions. A variety of best practices are available to campuses developing strategic plans to engage students. Creating a campus that engages students in all aspects of college life requires careful planning, use of best practices, and collaboration between academic and student services professionals.
Student engagement does not occur in one place on campus, but across campus. Therefore, strategic planning should involve coordinated efforts at creating cocurricular opportunities that extend the classroom to the campus, the community, and beyond. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) documents a number of best practices by schools across the country to use as models.
A growing number of institutions are using strategic planning to expand their commitment to civic education, developing opportunities for students to develop personal and social responsibility inside and outside the classroom through service learning, volunteerism, and exposure to global perspectives. These efforts have yielded a number of successful outcomes. Lessons from these endeavors have been compiled to serve as a guide for institutions beginning the process.
Recent research has found a direct link between civic engagement and student wellness, leading to a concept known as “flourishing.” An entire issue of AAC&U’s journal, Liberal Education, is devoted to this connection, providing strategic planners with a variety of ideas and pathways for linking these concepts.