EXCERPTS FROM: National Report: What did you do in school today? Transforming classrooms through social, Academic and Intellectual Engagement Canadian Education Association. Douglas Willims, Sharon Friesen and Penny Milton.

Social engagement: A sense of belonging and participation in school life. (Also see student engagement.)
Student engagement:The extent to which students identify with and value schooling outcomes, have a sense of belonging at school, participate in academic and non-academic activities, strive to meet the formal requirements of schooling, and make a serious personal investment in learning. (Also see these subsets of student engagement: academic engagement, intellectual engagement, and social engagement.)

What did you do in school today?  is a multi-year research and development initiative of the Canadian Education Association (CEA), funded through collaboration with the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) and a number of Canadian school districts. Launched in 2007, the initiative was designed to capture, assess and inspire new ideas for enhancing the learning experiences of adolescents in classrooms and schools.

The study focuses on complex challenge faced by educators: how to engage students whose passions do not fit within the traditional curriculum, underachievers, students who tune out, or drop out, those who seem equally unsuccessful in academic or applied programs; or those who have come to believe that they cannot learn, at least not in school. It also raises awareness about the significant role that engagement plays in student motivation and how engagement in school affects not just their future, but the quality of their daily lives and experiences now.

  1. Across Canada, many students have told CEA that classrooms and learning as they are currently organized are not working. Students want to feel something, to be moved and challenged intellectually by what they learn; they want to connect deeply with things that matter to the world and matter to them; and they want the chance to make a difference.
  2. Teaching and learning models are rooted in the economic, educational, and cultural norms of the early 20th century. This model does not prepare students for the rapid and complex changes that are taking place in society at large. Classroom design, culture, and expectations continue to reflect and value the skills, talents, values and knowledge of a bygone era.
  3. Much of the emphasis for transformation in education has focused on early learning. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that problems experienced by students in middle and secondary schools – such as disengagement, dissatisfaction with their schooling experience, and dropping out – are significantly linked to the learning environment
  4. Disengagement from school is a significant source of inequity in Canadian society. It is disproportionately experienced by students living in poverty, students with disabilities, and students from ethnic minority and Aboriginal communities. Disengagement is also linked to school violence, social exclusion, and a polarization severe enough to pose a threat to social cohesion in Canada.


Check out the full report:




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