Student continues to rank as one of the primary issues facing teachers today, according to a recent poll by SmartBrief Education. Fifty-seven percent of educators participating in the poll reported that engaging and motivating students are the biggest challenges in their classroom.

So what are schools doing to boost engagement? According to our poll respondents, 37% are facilitating collaborative projects and 30% implement student-led or student-directed learning. Nearly half — % — use hands-on learning activities.

Hands-on learning has been effective for science students at the Bradwell Institute, part of the Liberty County School System in Georgia. The has a STEM lab, outfitted withzSpace virtual-reality systems. The systems come with activities designed to let students interact and get hands-on experience with concepts.

When students are involved in a hands-on learning, “all of a sudden, the concepts come alive,” explains Pamela Donald, an anatomy and science teacher at the school. “They’re open, they’re receptive, they’re energetic.”

Donald recalls a student in her Environmental Sciences class who wasn’t interested in a lesson on the biome and ecosystems. “He was like, ‘I just want to put my head down. I really don’t want to hear this.’ Then I brought the class into the lab and gave them one of the zSpace activities, and he took the lead and was explaining to everyone.”

“They can see things in zSpace that they can’t see in a textbook,” says Donald. “it becomes real to them, becomes life to them.

Learn more about improving student engagement in the classroom. Download our SmartFocus on Student Engagement to get more insights and practical for boosting involvement and motivation in your classroom.

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