The Challenges of Student Engagement: Beyond a Deficit Mentality

John P. Portelli
Professor, Department of Social Justice
Education, OISE, University of Toronto

No one disputes the importance of student engagement. However, realizing proper student engagement poses several challenges. These challenges include the misinterpretation of what engagement means, the overly technical application of engagement to the detriment of students’ lives, the lack of consideration of the purpose of engagement. But the most problematic challenge is the reproduction of a deficit mentality on the part of educators and institutions. How may social justice and equity contribute to these challenges? The suggestions in this presentation are based on several empirical studies relating to student engagement in various countries.

Keywords: student engagement, learning challenges, mentality