Video: How an Engagement Trigger at the Start of Class Improves Student Engagement


For years, Dr. Bonita Veysey began each of the classes she taught at Rutgers School of Criminal Justice in a similar way.

“I used to start every class with housekeeping stuff,” Veysey told The Newark Times in a recent interview. “It was a way to get something done while I waited for people to arrive.”

This semester, however, Veysey changed her routine after she completed ACUE’s module on Planning an Effective Class Session. Research shows that students are more engaged in their learning at the beginning of class, so Veysey implemented an engagement trigger in the first several minutes of every class.

“It has been amazing,” said Veysey. “My students are showing up on time, and they’re not wasting that time.”

Veysey is leading a cohort of faculty who are enrolled in ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices, which launched this semester as a cornerstone initiative of Rutgers University–Newark’s P3 Collaboratory. Veysey said that despite her having nearly two decades of experience in the classroom, the program has helped her refine and improve her practice.

“This has given me a completely new view of teaching,” Veysey said.

Check out the complete Newark Times video interview in which Veysey and Dr. Alexander Sannella discuss teaching practices they’ve learned and implemented and the immediate response they’re seeing from students below.


7 thoughts on “Video: How an Engagement Trigger at the Start of Class Improves Student Engagement”

  1. The conversations with these two seasoned educators have consolidated and proven the old adage that one is never two old (or experienced) to learn.
    On a personal level although I have used engagement triggers, I did not know that there was a name for it and that it was a scientific pedagogical method.

  2. I believe that engaging students from the start with a puzzling question, a compelling piece of information, etc. is a crucial component of successful instruction and the fostering of deep learning. I also appreciated the reminder that, not matter how long your experience in the classroom or how seasoned a teacher one thinks she or he is, there invariably is a skill in need of sharpening, a new research-based practice yet to try. A view of teaching as a craft the mastery of which will always be both a work in progress and an open ended quest is worth adopting in my opinion. I have found, however, that students also appreciate a brief reminder of where a particular class period and content fit into the overall schedule and that some of them value at least a quick review of the class dashboard, so to speak, at the beginning of the class. At least they have express as much in their evaluations.

  3. Dr. Bonita Veysey and Dr. A, Sanella make “Wanting to Teach Better” for our students encouraging for me. They made me really stop and think about why I am pursuing this course and to move forward with some great ideas. I appreciate their enthusiasm. Thank You for this !

  4. The video was helpful. Although I think I do a pretty good job teaching, I too can say that no one has taught. me how to teach. I appreciate the idea to stop using the first few minutes of class as house keeping, but to immediate engage students with a photo, video or question. I have intentionally used something learned from ACUE every week in my class.

  5. Thank you so much for this video. It has opened my eyes to a few new things that I am going to try next week in my lecture. I do start the lecture with a quiz which most certainly means that students are on time to class but, I love the idea of introducing a video or a picture as a starting point of discussion. I teach Associate Degree Nursing in Los Angeles and I am going to be using a photo/video of a patient that will appear in the context of a case-study to start the class discussion about a particular disease process and the nursing management of the patient and his family. Thank you once again for the information. Dr Sannella’s suggestions about the use of 4×4 index cards is also a fabulous idea to allow other students to participate in the conversation.

    1. It is amazing how I have used some strategies and now after listening to /Dr. Bonita Veysey and Dr. A. Sanella all have started to make more sense. I have learned a lot after listening to these speakers about active learning . I am certainly will incorporate the Thirty Five: Trading Cards and Fill in the blank activities. Thanks Dr. Veysey and Dr. Sanella for sharing your knowledge and teaching experiences.

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