The Three As: Defining Engagement in Higher Education

This month we published International Student Engagement in Higher Education by Margaret Kettle. In this post, the author introduces her “three As” model for defining the concept of engagement and explains what inspired her to write the book.

Engagement is everywhere. When I go to meetings and presentations, and read policy documents, the word is pervasive. We have student engagement, community engagement, the importance of engaging with industry partners, and so on.  It is clear to me that the word has become a catch-all and that the concept is in danger of being washed out, and then possibly thrown out. My book International Student Engagement in Higher Education is an attempt to identify the components of what is a complex and elusive concept. To this end, I foreground international students’ experiences and utilise social practice to explain the multiple, interrelated dimensions of engagement. My model comprises three ‘A’s: antecedents to engagement, actions of engaging, and achievements and accomplishments flowing from engagement.

Antecedents to engagement include dominant forms of academic English as well as facilitative teaching and assessment practices. Actions refer to students’ strategic acts in the moment of engaging. Finally, accomplishments draw attention to the benefits students derive from engagement such as academic achievement and personal change. The power of my model is that it disentangles the various dimensions of engagement while retaining their interrelationship.

By understanding the complexity of engagement, I believe that university leaders, managers and academics are better equipped to make decisions about policy and teaching approaches as well as academic support. Clearer conceptualisation of engagement will benefit international students and domestic/home students. Indeed, the model could also be used in other educational settings such as schools.

My interest in international student engagement began with my own experiences as an international student in Germany. It continued with work at an Australian university and being privy to international students’ strategic campaigns to assert themselves in their postgraduate courses. The opportunity to research engagement arose through my study with a university academic who had a reputation among colleagues and students for being an excellent teacher. The research involved a case study of the academic’s course over a semester – a rich and transformative experience for all, including myself as researcher.

At a time when the focus on engagement is increasing, the best way for institutions to learn about international student engagement is by listening to the students themselves. Teachers are integral to the student experience and have a vital role to play in providing the conditions for engagement. This book explicates these relationships and will hopefully be of benefit to people interested in promoting engagement for all students undertaking higher education.

For more information about this book, please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Desiring TESOL and International Education by Raqib Chowdhury and Phan Le Ha.

Channel View Team at London Book Fair 2017

Last month Sarah and Flo popped down to London for the day for the London Book Fair at Olympia. It’s always a good chance to meet and catch up with all our publishing contacts in one place and we see everyone from reps and ebook providers to distributors and designers.

Flo at London Book Fair 2017

After a pretty civilised 11am arrival, we had a bit of time to wander around and acclimatise to the hustle and bustle before meeting our UK distributor, NBNi. After a quick catch-up with Juliette Teague and Matt Devereux, there was time to grab some lunch before our meeting with Kelvin van Hasselt, our rep for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

Covers designed by Latte Goldstein at riverdesign

After our appointment with Kelvin, we were due to meet our new book cover designer, Latte Goldstein from riverdesign. After some confusion and a couple of incidents of walking past each other (it’s surprisingly difficult to get a proper look at people’s name badges!), we eventually managed to meet up and had a useful discussion about the current projects he’s working on for us. We now have two books in the pipeline whose covers have been designed by Latte, International Student Engagement in Higher Education by Margaret Kettle and Early Language Learning edited by Janet Enever and Eva Lindgren.

In the afternoon Flo went off to explore while Sarah had a meeting with Darren Ryan, the CEO of one of our suppliers for copy-editing and typesetting, Deanta Global. Darren was showcasing DeantaSource, their web-based project management portal, where authors can login and make corrections to the proof file. Another meeting followed with James Powell of ProQuest, one of the library ebook aggregators we distribute ebooks to. James was very happy that our ebooks are often distributed before the print book is available.

We then came back together for a meeting with Andrea Jacobs from our US distributor, NBN. It was nice to be able to put a face to a name you email on a regular basis and we had a good chat about our experience of moving over to a new distributor.

Our dedicated and diligent Production Manager

With all our meetings over, we went to the IPG drinks reception where we fought our way through the crowds to the stand of our database provider, Stison, to have a quick catch-up with them and take advantage of a great photo opportunity (see right!). When the drinks had run out, there was just time for dinner with one of our printers, CPI, before we caught the train back to Bristol. We look forward to seeing everyone again at London Book Fair 2018!