Formal Recognition for Informal Learning

BDG0105 Active Engagement

DESCRIPTION: Teachers who earn the Active Engagement Micro-Credential engage learners in high cognition and high participation activities within a lesson to build student understanding.

EARNING THE MICRO-CREDENTIAL: To earn the Active Engagement Micro-Credential, teachers demonstrate competencies to engage all learners during lesson presentation with high participation and high cognition activities, positively affecting student learning. Earners write both a lesson plan to incorporate high participation, high cognition activities and a reflection explaining how the chosen methods are both high participation and high cognitive activities, and commenting on their effectiveness. The earner video-records the planned lesson to demonstrate competency to engage all learners actively in a lesson without detracting from the stated learning target.

RESEARCH BASE: Active engagement increases student learning with an effect size between .58 and .66, which corresponds to an increase of 25 percentile points in achievement (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012).

BACKGROUND: Consider these resources to better understand the topic.

Himmele, Pérsida & Himmele, William (2017). Total participation techniques: Making every student an active learner. Alexandria VA: ASCD http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/117033/chapters/A_Model_for_Total_Participation_and_Higher-Order_Thinking.aspx

Jablon, J. & Wilkinson, M. (March, 2006). Using engagement strategies to facilitate children’s learning and success. YoungChildren.


Active engagement video: https://vimeo.com/180346677

MICRO-CREDENTIAL CRITERIA: An active engagement micro-credential earner can do the following:

  1. Plan lessons that will engage all students in high cognition, high participation activities.
  2. Understand the connection between active engagement and student learning.


Create a lesson plan that includes the following:

  1. The lesson targets or objectives.
  2. Three different high cognition, high participation techniques to engage all students actively during the lesson presentation.
  3. Explanations to show the connections of the engagement techniques to higher order thinking and high student participation.

Submit a lesson video.

Keep in mind the following:

  1. Teach and video-record the planned lesson with special emphasis on active engagement techniques to achieve high cognition and high participation from all learners during lesson presentation.
  2. Obtain permission from parents or guardians for students to be video-recorded.
  3. Show the techniques in practice and resulting student high cognitive engagement and high participation.
  4. Edit the video so its total length does not exceed 15 minutes.

Submit a written reflection.

After completing the recorded lesson, write a reflection (maximum: 400 words) of the lesson that explains:

  1. The positive effect of the selected active engagement techniques chosen for each lesson.
  2. How student learning “moved beyond shallow, superficial understanding toward cognitively intense, meaningful and deep learning.” (Himmele & Himmele, p. 15)
  3. The change(s) that can be made to engage all students actively without detracting from learning targets.



Himmele, Pérsida & Himmele, William (2017). Total participation techniques: Making every student an active learner. Alexandria VA: ASCD http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Total-Participation-Techniques-Making-Every-Student-an-Active-Learner-2nd-Edition.aspx

Antonetti, John V. & Garver, James R. (2015). 17,000 Classroom visits can’t be wrong: Strategies that engage students, promote active learning, and boost achievement. Alexandria VA: ASCD http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Seventeen-Thousand-Classroom-Visits-Cant-Be-Wrong.aspx

Dean, Ceri; Hubbell, Elizabeth Ross; Pitler, Howard; & Stone, Bj (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/111001.aspx


Edwards, Mark A. (2013). The 6 Key Drivers of Student Engagement. T.H.E. Journal https://thejournal.com/articles/2013/04/16/the-6-key-drivers-of-student-engagement.aspx

Heath, Chip & Heath, Dan (2018). The Secret to Student Engagement. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/01/10/the-secret-to-student-engagement.html

Johnson, B. (2012). How do we know when students are engaged? Edutopia. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-definition-ben-johnson

Strong, Harvey; Silver, Harvey F.; & Robinson, Amy. (1995) Strengthening student engagement: What do students want (and what really motivates them)? Educational Leadership 53:1 http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept95/vol53/num01/Strengthening-Student-Engagement@-What-Do-Students-Want.aspx


Institute for Evidence-based Reform, LLC (2015). A brief video of active student engagement in a high school biology class. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WMRgYCVHrs

KinderGals (2015). A brief video of active student engagement in a kindergarten class. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSlHazo3Wcc

Martin Luther College Office of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education (2016). Active engagement. https://vimeo.com/180346677

Robinson, K. (2010). Changing Education Paradigms https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

University of Cambridge. Active engagement techniques: Teaching for active engagement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8hMrlLkk-Y