Engagement Theory – James W. Marcum, PHD

Engagement Theory – James W. Marcum, PHD

  • Key to effective work and learning
  • Engagement occurs when people undertake tasks related to their competence, learn continuously, immerse themselves and persist because of the value they attribute to the work
  • Engagement is a process and ongoing activity – Learning and involvement are its determining characteristics.
  • Engagement cannot be “made to happen.” The initiative remains with the individual
  • Engaged agents choose to participate because they can influence the choice of subject and method
  • Engagement is ongoing – learning and increased knowledge and skill are the goal
  • Engagement is about the agent’s goals, learning, growth, and improved knowledge and skills

    Engagement occurs when an individual or group undertake tasks related to their interests and competence, learn about them continuously, participate freely with (equal) associates, immerse themselves deeply, and continue the task with persistence and commitment because of the value they attribute to the work.

Essential points of the concept include:

  • Self-determination: one chooses to engage; assignment invalidates the process
  • Direct participation is essential: observation does not suffice
  • Activity is assumed (it is not the goal), as is some measure of interest or pleasure
  • A delicate balance between sufficient competence and expertise to engage with components of challenge is important
  • An open-ended situation is key; collaborative problem-solving is ideal
  • Routine work is not engaging
  • Persistence is characteristic
  • Coercion destroys engagement while communication regarding intent and purpose is fundamental

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