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University of the Arts London

Exploring student definitions of engagement: A reflexive approach to designing learning activities


The rise of mass and universal forms of higher education has led to the growing debate, research and theorisation of student engagement. Students are now expected to adhere to institutionalised and behavioural-based definitions of engagement, yet limited research exists that explores students’ perceptions and definitions of engagement. This article represents a first step in defining student engagement from the perspective of the student. Notions and definitions of engagement were gathered through focus groups with students on the BA (Hons) Fashion Public Relations and Communication course at London College of Fashion. The students’ definitions of engagement were then used to design teaching sessions to improve learner engagement based on the students’ own parameters. The results relating to each teaching method aligned with the students’ pre-test definitions of engagement and highlight the array and complexity of discipline specific factors that influence student engagement in art, design and communication based courses. 


student engagement, pedagogies of engagement, media and communications, rhetoric, experiential learning, problem-based learning


Author Biography

Emily Huggard

Lecturer, BA (Hons) Fashion Public Relations and Communication, London College of Fashion


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