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GoGuardian Finds Three Factors That influence K-12 Student Engagement Online and In-Person

Annual Research Report Captures Trends and Best Practices That Create Engaging Learning Experiences

The GoGuardian Research and Insights team today announced its comprehensive findings on the factors that create an engaging learning experience in K-12 schools, both online and in-person, in its 2020 State of Engagement Report.

The report released by GoGuardian, an education technology company supporting thousands of K-12 schools and over eight million students through powerful tools and research, captures field research from the GoGuardian Research and Insights team, with insights from more than 450 students, teachers, administrators and policy leaders across the U.S. Through this eight-month research project, they identified the factors that impact an engaging learning experience and strategies that school boards, administrators and teachers can implement to help improve student engagement. Because the COVID-19 Pandemic has restructured U.S. classrooms to an online or hybrid model, this report also includes a supplemental analysis of existing research and literature on engagement in online learning, to provide context on how the themes discovered in the field research apply to the current distance learning environment.

“Engagement levels in a learning experience are dynamic and context-driven, but our research found remarkable commonalities across many school communities and stakeholder groups. We’ve found a few consistent themes relating to the variables that impact engagement and the indicators that signal students are engaged in what they are learning,” said Mariana Aguilar, director of research at GoGuardian. “The lessons that created the most engaging experiences for students often were a combination of opportunities that encouraged discussion, gave students learning choices and allowed students to create. These elements are immensely transferable both in the online and in-person classroom and can facilitate a positive learning environment, whether in a synchronous or asynchronous setting.”

Three key areas that can support and facilitate engaging learning experiences were found in the research—developing effective instructional practices, picking effective lesson content and creating a productive classroom culture.

Instructional practices that teachers use to create an engaging learning experience for their students include:

  • Performing regular checks for student understanding
  • Articulating clear objectives and directions for the lesson
  • Developing students’ metacognitive skills required for learning
  • Serving as a facilitator or a “guide-on-the-side” instead of a “sage-on-the-stage”
  • Encouraging productive play and creative expression

Lesson content for students that is differentiated to the learner’s needs, contextualized to convey relevance and designed to minimize distractions were found to consist of:

  • Matching content to students’ learning level
  • Making lessons relevant and relatable to students’ lives
  • Finding digital content designed for student focus

A productive classroom culture that facilitates engagement for students includes:

  • Cultivating positive and productive student-teacher relationships
  • Being consistent in classroom management
  • Showing investment in students’ long-term success
  • Creating an empowering and future-focused learning space

The State of Engagement 2020 Report also explores elements in the 21st-century classroom environment and those factors that consider and contribute to whole-child education. To learn more about the 2020 State of Engagement Report and GoGuardian Research and Insights, click here.

About GoGuardian

GoGuardian believes that education is the highest point of leverage for improving society and that digital learning can meaningfully advance educational outcomes for every student, school, and district. GoGuardian helps thousands of K-12 schools and districts maximize the learning potential of every student by providing solutions that enable more productive and safer digital learning. Its products help educators identify learning patterns, protect students from harmful and distracting content, and support mental health. To compile data on how educators can use technology to improve learning outcomes, GoGuardian has invested in a Research and Insights team, composed of psychology, advocacy, and education research specialists. Read about their study on the factors that influence student engagement in the 2020 State of Engagement Report.

Learn more about GoGuardian’s industry-defining analytics, student engagement, and self-harm prevention products at

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