Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Student engagement

IAD are supporting a range of initiatives designed to support student engagement.

What do we mean by 'student engagement'?

Student engagement is a term often used in the UK to refer to both governance (student representation and institutional engagement) and pedagogy (learning, teaching, assessment and curriculum) (Buckley, 2014). At the University of Edinburgh we use the term ‘Student voice’ to refer to student representation and institutional engagement. We tend to use the term ‘student engagement’ to refer to work on student engagement in learning, teaching, assessment and curriculum.

Why is it important?

In learning and teaching, student engagement is both a route to success and an outcome of excellent teaching. Kuh (2001: 12) argues that “while students are seen to be responsible for constructing their own knowledge, learning is also seen to depend on institutions and staff generating conditions that stimulate student involvement”. This shared responsibility for engagement is helpfully captured by Bryson (2014) in his distinction between engaging students (what staff and institutions do to engage students in educationally purposeful ways) and students engaging (what students do, such as the effort they spend studying, their growing sense of ‘becoming’, their motivation and involvement).

IAD are supporting a range of initiatives to support student engagement including a student engagement network, practical guides to student engagement in a range of teaching and assessment issues, advice, staff seminars and other initiatives that aim to help build positive relationships between students and staff, and enhance the sense of academic community and engagement at the University of Edinburgh.

Student engagement network - engage

Events: In 2017-2018 we are introducing a new student engagement network, Edinburgh Network: Growing Approaches to Genuine Engagement – engage. The network events are for any students and staff interested in enhancing student engagement in learning, teaching and assessment.

Resources: The network webpage also hosts additional student engagement-themed materials and resources developed as part of the network events.

Edinburgh Network: Growing Approaches to Genuine Engagement – engage. Events & resources - find out more

Student Engagement – Practical Guides

These EngagEd in… guides offer advice and real examples of student engagement in learning, teaching and assessment practice that we hope you find useful.

EngagEd in... Learning and Teaching Conversations (PDF) - download now

EngagEd in... Feedback and Assessment (PDF) - download now

We intend to produce more guides over the next few years. If you think there is an area of student engagement in learning and teaching where guidance would be useful, please contact Dr Catherine Bovill, email address below.


If you are interested in student engagement please contact Dr Catherine Bovill:

Dr Catherine Bovill

Senior Lecturer in Student Engagement

Contact details


Bryson, C. (2014) Clarifying the concept of student engagement, In C. Bryson (Ed) Understanding and developing student engagement. Abingdon: Routledge.

Buckley, A. (2014). How radical is student engagement? (And what is it for?). Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 3(2). Retrieved from

Kuh, G.D. & Hu, S.(2001) The effects of student-faculty interaction in the 1990s. The Review of Higher Education 24 (3) 309-332.