As of the fall 2022 semester, Montclair State University is requiring students to complete an Academic Engagement assignment for each of their courses within the first two weeks of the semester.
There are several reasons behind Montclair State’s decision to implement this requirement.
“The Academic Engagement assignment in each of your Canvas courses asks you to set your intentions for your courses,” the university’s website states. “This assignment has been developed by the university to support your learning, encourage your engagement with the class and meet compliance requirements established by the U.S. Department of Education.”
The assignment has its own tab in the Modules section of a course on Canvas or can be located under Assignments. The assignment serves as a verification of student attendance and participation.
The assignment is not graded and does not affect a student’s overall course grade.
The university is also using this assignment as a tool for data collection.
An email sent to students on Jan. 20, 2023 states, “The university uses this data for several purposes including student retention and tracking of courses. And, if you are receiving Financial Aid, this ensures that your Financial Aid will be processed to help pay your bill.”
The email gave instructions on how to complete the “Academic Engagement” assignment. It highlighted that if a student is not able to find the assignment or has any questions, they may contact the Information Technology department.
Students seem to be in support of the assignment and understand it may not be the burden others see it as.
Chris Servellon, a senior communication and media arts major, thinks this is an important step to take.
“I think it’s important,” Servellon said. “I know they do it for financial aid purposes and they also do it to see if people are actually in the class as well.”
Denilson Raez, a sophomore visual arts major, also thinks Academic Engagement is important.
“Academic Engagement for when you’re beginning the class is going to be important because you’re going to let your professors know [if] you’re going to be interested in this class or [if] you are going to drop out,” Raez said.
Raez believes that Academic Engagement should be conducted in a different format.
“In my opinion, professors can just ask the students to introduce themselves [rather] than typing it in Academic Engagement,” Raez said. “It may be easy, ‘Oh I’ll just answer this in two to three sentences.’ but you could just say that in person. You have the voice. You can use your voice. I think that they should not continue it [online] for a while.”
Eva Pruzan, a senior film and television major, finds the implementation of Academic Engagement a tad of a nuisance.
“Honestly, I do it just because I hate seeing a notification symbol on Canvas,” Pruzan said. “It doesn’t hurt me to just complete an assignment or question. I read the email about it but I’m graduating so it doesn’t really matter to me.”
She doesn’t feel that the assignment applies to all the classes a student may take.
“It doesn’t really make sense to ask me what I’m going to get out of the class if it’s not graded,” Pruzan said. “A lot of the classes that we have on our curriculum don’t really apply to exactly how you want to do things. You have to make it on your own.”
For more information, visit https://www.montclair.edu/red-hawk-central/academic-engagement/.