More on Engaging College Students

Two dozen tips for engaging college students.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I did a self-assessment by looking through the 88 articles I had posted as of October 10th to see how well I have addressed this issue. I identified 24 articles that I pulled together for you. Here are my remaining 12 tips for engaging college students with links to the related articles:

  1. When students ask questions, be careful how you answer them. They way your respond can either promote discussion or it can stifle it. For more information on this topic, click here.
  2. Provide them with prompt feedback. Failure to do so turns students off. For more information on this topic, click here.
  3. Maintain a civil classroom setting. Do not tolerate disruptive behaviors. For more information on this topic, click here.
  4. Know what constitutes disruptive behavior. Even the most benign actions on the part of one student may make it less likely that other students will participate. For more information on this topic, click here.
  5. Be mindful of how you interact with your students. Know what not to say to them. If you are not showing them respect, how in the world can you expect them to show you respect? For more information on this topic, click here.
  6. Don’t send negative signals to your students. If they think you think they are incapable of succeeding in your class, they will pick up on that. It may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For more information on this topic, click here.
  7. Apply Steven Covey’s 6th Habit – Synergy. Make sure your students know their joint responsibility with you to make the class the best it can be. For more information on this topic, click here.
  8. Know that some of your students will not approach you no matter how approachable you think you are. For more information on this topic, click here.
  9. Be prepared to deal with disturbing behaviors in a mature manner. Don’t let students trigger your hot button. For more information on this topic, click here.
  10. Make sure your students know your expectations are and what they will be held accountable for. They should understand that you cannot cover every piece of information that may appear on a test, so they need to ask questions and seek assistance if they don’t understand something. For more information on this topic, click here.
  11. Be sensitive to the emotional needs of your students. Students who are withdrawn may have personal problems. As an instructor, you have an obligation to deal with potentially serious situations. For more information on this topic, click here.
  12. If you sense problems, be proactive. You are the instructor; it’s your job to make things better. For more information on this topic, click here.

So there are my 24 tips for engaging college students.

Teaching college students can be a bit challenging at times. (By the way, that is my submission for understatement of the week. 🙂 ) There are few things more aggravating than students who disrespectfully ignore their instructor to attend to other diversions. I hope these suggestions are helpful to you. And let me know if you have any recommendations to add to the list.


© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

Revised August 6, 2011



About Dr. Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

My name is Paul Hummel, and I often introduce myself to others as a recovering engineer. If you are familiar with the Dilbert cartoons, let me simply say that I lived all of that. I started my college saga at Illinois Institute of Technology. Eventually, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. I worked for many years in industry, and during this time I did some college adjunct teaching. During my career I held several managerial positions in industry, the last as Director of Technology of a division of a Fortune 500 corporation. Then, in 1996, with minimal planning or forethought, I found myself working as a manufacturing consultant on behalf of Elgin Community College (ECC). My career in higher education began to take shape. I fell in love with ECC and with the mission of community colleges in general. I worked fulltime and occasionally taught college courses for my institution and two other colleges. After a couple years I set a goal to move over to the “credit side of the college” and eventually become a college administrator. In 2006, having earned my doctorate in education, I achieved that goal. I was hired by Waubonsee Community College as Dean for Technology, Mathematics and Physical Sciences. I have had the great fortune of working at two excellent colleges. The insights I want to share are drawn from the various college positions I have held. At ECC, in addition to my consulting role, I coordinated non-credit professional development training programs for three years and spent four years advising students in the TRiO Student Support Services program. That position helped me understand college education from the perspective of today’s college students. After seven years at Waubonsee, I retired April 30, 2013. I now devote my knowledge and skills to upgrading and expanding the websites I created beginning with Adjunct Assistance. I have three other websites: College Teaching Tips, Keys for College Success and Lighthouse for Learning. A lot of work lies ahead for me in terms of upgrading and expanding each of these websites, but I could not be more excited about fulfilling the vision I have for helping college instructors and their students succeed.


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