How radical is student engagement? (And what is it for?)

Alex Buckley


This paper argues that the term ‘student engagement’ as used in the UK covers activities with two contrasting sets of benefits and purposes: those that are pedagogical, and those that are political. Without an account of learning that brings these two sets of purposes together, the concept of student engagement in the UK is therefore fundamentally fractured. The paper proposes that critical pedagogy can provide that underpinning account, but at the expense of the current mainstream nature of student engagement. The paper argues that those working in student engagement in UK higher education thus face a dilemma: sacrifice either the idea of student engagement as a popular solution to mainstream challenges, or give up the idea of a unified and coherent concept of student engagement.


Student engagement; student participation; student involvement

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