Critical attributes of effective classrooms: insights from classroom engagement
Student success is an international priority and various initiatives have been implemented in higher education to improve success rates, especially in the first year of study. However, few of these initiatives have focused on the classroom context even though classroom engagement is a prerequisite for success. The purpose of this study was to ascertain what classroom surveys could reveal about student engagement. In addition, it aimed to advance the notion of engagement to include what students and lecturers do in the classroom to make classroom learning more effective. An exploratory case study research design was used, which drew on Tinto’s (2012) attributes of effective classrooms as the theoretical framework. The major finding is that critical reflections on classroom engagement by lecturers and students can improve engagement in the classroom by focusing on the mismatches between students’ and lecturers’ perspectives and using these to improve classroom practices. The findings thus revealed the importance of reflective practice by both students and lecturers as an attribute of effective classrooms and in doing so have contributed to theory by adding reflective practice in teaching and learning to Tinto’s (2012) attributes of effective classrooms. This article concludes with a discussion of the implications of this study for improving engagement in the classroom and ultimately student success.