The ASEAN Journal of Education ASEAN Journal of Education

Faculty Student Engagements: Dimensional Aspirants or Deterrents

Teay Shawyun, Somkiat Wattanasap,


Workforce engagement is a key organizational factor with a set of determinants for organizational excellence for profit or nonprofit businesses that include healthcare and educational establishments. The “engagement” hype has spilled over into the higher educational institutions (HEIs) where student engagement is claimed as a key factor for student success, and is becoming a potentially important measure of student success. While it is recognized that student engagement is important, most HEIs have forgotten that it takes “two to tango”. The premise underlying this paper is that for successful faculty-student engagement, one would need to look at both sides of the aspiring and deterring determinants equation of student and faculty engagements. These determinants represent two sides of the “faculty-student tango engagement” equation, of which this paper aimed to explore. It examined the two main determining dimensions of environmental factors and behavioral factors of both faculty and students. In the environmental dimension, the normal determinants were the organizational factors, work psychological climate and loyalty enhancers. The behavioral dimension explored the psychological and emotive behavior together with personal and beliefs disposition. In determining the aspirants or deterrents dimensions, it aimed at identifying key fundamentals of a holistic framework for faculty-student engagement determinants, which when clarified will potentially strengthen the engagement foundation of institution success underlying student success.


 HEIs have historically been faculty-centered and only in the past decades have been making efforts to be more student-centered. This is supposedly to be accomplished through a wide array of key teaching and learning approaches like experiential and experience learning, outcome-based learning, case-based, project-based, flipped class room and others. All of these approaches have the singular aim of involving the student as the center of focus of development. A key fundamental is engaging the student, but “student engagement” studies are still based on the basic business and psychological studies done in the business sector. 

 In  trying  to  disentangle  the  “student  engagement”  diaspora,  one  assumes  that understanding the student and providing the necessary engagement mechanisms will serve the student-centric goal in the HEI. Unfortunately, both the student and faculty are involved in an engaged set school and social environments and are influenced by personal and psychological backgrounds. Fundamentally, it takes “two to tango” for the student-faculty engagement to work  and  this  takes  place  within  the  plethora  of  environmental  and  operational  factors provided by the school. Furthermore engagement entails both parties’ consensual agreement which is affected by another set of multifarious social, individual and school needs, as well as personal  and  psychological  variables. These  underscore  the  faculty-student  relationship, which is a bi-relational engagement equation, as opposed to a unidirectional engagement that flows from the faculty to the student, and expects the student to want to be engaged.  

To understand this bi-relational faculty-student engagement agenda, this paper had two aims: (1) reviewing basic concepts and studies in “engagement”; (2) applying inform from the review to develop and design a student-faculty engagement framework to better understand the dilemma facing the faculty-student engagement success.


Review on “Engagement” Literature

  There  are  various  and  conflicting  definitions  of  employee  engagement  in  the psychological literature. Some definitions claim that employee engagement is something that is produced by aspects in the workplace (McCashland, 1999; Miles, 2001 and Harter, et al 2003). These key workplace behaviors can include beliefs in the organization, desire to work to make things better, understanding of the business context and the “bigger picture”, being respectful of and helpful to colleagues, willingness to “go the extra mile” and keeping up to date with developments in the field (Robinson, et al., 2004) or involvement in decisions (Purcell, et al., 2003). All these are based on perception, where Buchanan and Huczynski, (2004, p.215) defined this perception as “the dynamic psychological process responsible for attending to, organizing and interpreting sensory data” which is different from individual to personal frame of reference (Towers and Perrin, 2003).  

Furthermore  others  assert  that  it  is  something  that  the  individual  brings  to  the workplace (Harter et al 2002 and Goddard 1999). Extraneous variables such as individual differences are important; Harter et. al. (2002) notes that “the individual’s involvement and satisfaction as well as enthusiasm for work” may not be trivial and could have significant effects (Ferguson, 2007) as employee engagement is related to emotional experiences and wellbeing  (May,  et  al  2004  and  Ferguson,  2007). This  is  supported  by  Saks  (2006)  and Roberts  (2006)  who  noted  that  engagement  is  most  closely  associated  with  the  existing construct of job involvement and flow. This is based on the social exchange theory, which states that people make social decisions based on perceived costs and benefits (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005) and that the human being evaluates all social relationships to determine the benefits they will obtain from such relationships (Homans, 1958; Blau, 1964; Ethugala, 2011 and Ologbo and Saudah, 2012).  

According to the main streams of studies on “engagement”, there are three potential approaches of “engagement”:  

Psychological approach – According to Kahn (1990), engagement at work is the degree of: (1) cognitive (concerns employees‘ beliefs about the organization, its leaders and working conditions); (2) emotional (concerns how employees feel about each of those three factors and whether they have positive or negative attitudes toward the organization and its leaders);  and  (3)  physical  (concerns  the  physical  energies  exerted  by  individuals  to accomplish their roles) involvement in a work role, how much a worker puts into a job and work  interactions,  and  the  personal  connections  with  work  and  co-workers  which  are basically  conceptualization  rather  that  operational  (Kim  et  al.,2009a,b).  Employees  who exhibit engagement are physically involved in their tasks, are cognitively alert and attentive, and are emotionally connected to their work and to others in the work place (Ferrer, 2005).

  Burnout approach – In the second approach, the “burnout approach” of Maslach and Leiter (1997) and Maslach et al. (2001) conceptualized engagement as the opposite or the positive antithesis to the three burnout dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and sense of inefficacy.  Models  proposed  by  Kahn  (1990)  and  Maslach  et.  al.  (2001)  indicate the psychological conditions or antecedents that are necessary for engagement, but they do not fully  explain  why  individuals  will  respond  to  these  conditions  with  varying  degrees  of engagement.

  State  of  mind  approach  –  Schaufeli  et  al.  (2002)  provided  a  third  approach  for employee engagement, asserting that job engagement and burnout are independent states of mind inversely related to each other. They defined engagement as a positive, fulfilling, work related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption. Vigor refers to the feeling of physical energy, emotional strength, willingness to invest effort, and endurance of difficulties. Dedication is characterized by a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge.  Finally, absorption refers to the  state  of  being  so  completely concentrated and highly engrossed in work that an employee feels time passes quickly and has difficulties detaching from work (Schaufeli et al., 2002).   Regardless  of  the  approach,  Macey  and  Schneider  (2015)  found  a  commonality across the various definitions of employee engagement that reflect the following three things about the concept of engagement:

  1. Employee engagement is a desirable condition;
  2. Employee engagement has an organizational purpose;
  3. Employee  engagement  suggests  absorption,  dedication,  passion,  enthusiasm, focused effort and energy on the part of the employee.


How Engagement Works

  Employee  engagement  is  the  emotional  commitment  the  employee  has  to  the organization and its goals when they use discretionary effort to actually care about their work and their company. Such engagement is undertaken note solely for a paycheck, or a future promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals which represents activation on the part of the employee, the willingness to expend his or her discretionary effort to help the employer. Employee engagement does not mean employee happiness as someone who is happy  might  not  be  productive  or  working  hard  or  contributing  towards  organization accomplishment. Employee engagement does not mean employee satisfaction, as s/he might be compliant to regulations and not go the “extra mile” and is easily dissuaded with higher offers. This basically supports  the  idea that engagement is an emotional and intellectual commitment to the organization (Baumruk, 2004; Richman, 2006 and Shaw, 2005) or the amount of discretionary effort exhibited by employees in their job (Frank et al. 2004).

  Kevin Kruse (2012) stated “Engaged Employees lead to higher service levels, quality, and productivity, which leads to… higher customer satisfaction, which leads to increased sales (repeat business and referrals), which leads to… higher levels of profit, which leads to higher shareholder returns (i.e., stock price)”. The Gallup Organization (2004) found critical links between employee engagement, customer loyalty, business growth and profitability.  In  2005,  a  survey  conducted  in Thailand  revealed  that  only  12  percent  of Thailand’s employed population were “engaged”, 82 percent were “actively disengaged” and 6  percent  disengaged.  Similar  Gallup  studies  have  found  the  levels  of  engagement  in Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore to be t 18 percent, 12 percent, 9 percent, 17 percent and 9 percent, respectively (Gallup 2004).  

As demonstrated in the Hewitt Associates’ research, engagement of the workforce is important, as it showed that companies with an engaged workforce posted shareholder returns 19 times higher than the total stock market index in 2009; unfortunately 46% of the surveyed organizations had seen a decline in employee engagement since 2009 (Hewitt Associates, 2010). In addition, the ASTD/i4cp Learning and Engagement Study 2007 (ASTD, 2008) found  that  about  two-thirds  of  respondents  said  that  the  quality  of  learning  and  training opportunities positively influences engagement in their organizations; 54% said the sheer breadth of such opportunities boosts engagement; and, “career development opportunities” were cited by 76%  of  respondents  as  driving engagement to a high or very high extent.   This  was  supported  by  Schweyer‟s  research  (2009)  which  stated  that  “Disengaged employees”  cost  U.S.  employers  up  to  $350  billion  annually  and  as  many  as  84%  of   U.S.-based employees planned to look for new jobs in 2011 (Manpower, 2010). Categorically,   engaged employees put passion into their work, know and do what is expected of them and advocate their company to others. The second category is being responsive to engagement where employees put time, but not necessarily passion into their work. They are satisfied but are unclear about the organization’s vision, and are not likely to talk about their organization to others. In the last category of the disengaged, they will talk to others, but the conversations may be negative and may undermine others’ efforts rather than concentrate on their own work. This would mean that engagement is a combination of workforce loyalty (comprised of overall  satisfaction  with  the  organization,  others  and  a  plan  to  continue  working  with organization) and workforce contribution (comprised of willingness to go the extra mile and willingness to recommend the organization) (Inforsurf, n.a.).  

Engagement is the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their  organization  and  how  hard  they  work  and  how  long  they  stay  as  a  result  of  that commitment. This commitment has two main components: (1) Rational Commitment which is the extent to which employees believe that managers, teams, or organizations support employees’  self-interest  (financial,  developmental,  or  professional)  and  (2)  Emotional Commitment which is the extent to which employees value, enjoy and believe in their jobs, managers, teams, or organizations. These lead to the outputs of the (1) Discretionary Effort of the employee’s willingness to go “above and beyond” the call of duty, such as helping others with heavy workloads, volunteering for additional duties, and looking for ways to perform their jobs more effectively and (2) Intent to Stay which affects the employee’s desire to stay with the organization, based on whether they intend to look for a new job within a year, whether they frequently think of quitting, whether they are actively looking for a job or have begun  to  take tangible  steps  like  placing phone calls or sending out résumés (Corporate Leadership Council, 2004). Both of these affect the employee’s performance and attrition. Based on the Corporate Leadership Council Engagement Model, a basic “10:6:2” Rule was established  where:  (1)  every  10  percent  improvement  in  commitment  can  increase  an employee’s  effort  level  by  6  percent  and  (2)  every  6  percent  improvement  in  effort  can increase an employee’s performance by 2 percent.

Discussion of Measurements of Engagement

  Engagement  measurement  instruments  include  the  People  Metrics’  Employee Engagement Index (EEI), Gallup’s Employee Engagement (EE) and the Temkin Employee Engagement Index (TEEI). These, however, do not offer clear definitions of engagement and thus have their measurement constructs reflect more of the satisfaction with supervisors,   co-workers, and environment. Three basic approaches in the measures of engagement are:

  Work  Engagement  Scale  -  This  scale  is  based  on  the  premise  that  employee engagement can be conceptualized as either a trait or a state and a behavior. The Ulrecht Work Engagement Scale better reflects and provides measures of employee engagement that include  such  feelings  as  absorption,  dedication,  passion,  enthusiasm,  focused  effort  and energy  on  the  part  of  the  employee;  these  have  been  used  in  contemporary  engagement literature  and  research  (Schaufeli  et  al.,  2002;  Schaufeli  and  Bakker,  2003;  Bakker  and Schaufeli, 2008; Koyuncu et al., 2006; Karatepe and Demir, 2014).

  Affective Commitment Scale (ACS) (Allen & Meyer, 1990; Meyer & Allen, 1997; Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993; Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979; Rhoades, Eisenberger, & Armeli,  2001)  – This  has  been  conceptualized  as  having  a  strong  relation  to  employee engagement (Robinson, Perryman, & Hayday, 2004) where the employee’s affective bond with their organization has been considered an important determinate of dedication, loyalty, and satisfaction (Rhoades, Eisenberger, & Armeli, 2001). These emphasize the emotional connection employees have with their work and closely parallel the emotive qualities of engagement (Saks, 2006, CLC, 2006, Towers Perrin, 2003; 2007; Macey & Schneider 2008), including such conditions as meaningfulness and safety (Kahn, 1990).

 Psychological  Climate  Measure  –  This  is  the  employee’s  interpretation  of  their organizational setting in relation to their own well-being (Brown & Leigh, 1996 and James, James, & Ashe, 1990). In reality, the psychological climate is the lens employees use to understand their environment and “captures the meaningful psychological representations made by individuals relative to the structures, processes, and events that occur inside the organization”  (O’Neil  & Arendt,  2008,  p.  355).  It  also  “provides  constraints  on  or opportunities for behaviors and attitudes in organizational settings” (Johns, 2001, p. 32). 


Discussion of Drivers of Engagement

  In a white paper, Dale Carnegie identified people at the core of engagement as driven by three main sets of drivers: (1) Relationship with immediate supervisor (2) Belief in senior leadership (3) Pride in working for the company. In the MSW Research study, it was found that gender, ethnicity and work status (full/part time) did not emerge as critical variables of employee engagement, while more senior management (Senior VP+ level), people employed in a large corporation, those having a college education, earning a higher than average salary and those under the age of 30, or over 50 had some minor influences on engagement. Groups that are less engaged or disengaged with their organizations, in terms of demographic and organizational segments, were those who were middle-aged employees (40-49 years old), highly educated, i.e., those with a post-graduate education, or lower-level income employees earning or newer employees with less than a year or client-facing and clerical staffers and those working in government, military, education and manufacturing sectors, with only about 29% fully engaged while there were 26% disengaged. Basically, quoted by Andrew Carnegie, the bottom-line is “You must capture the heart of a supremely able man before his brain can do its best”.

  The Dale Carnegie’s research (2012), “Emotional Drivers of Employee Engagement” showed that the level of engagement increased dramatically with the number of key positive emotions (Inspired, Enthusiastic, Empowered, Confident or Valued) that the employees feel. But three core negative emotions drove disengagement: feeling irritation, disinterest, and discomfort; these were more important than positive emotions because negative emotions were more contagious and were more noticeable than positive ones. Negative emotions could impact co-workers and the organization as a whole and spread beyond the workplace to clients, potential clients and possible future hires. Employees who felt negative emotions were disengaged nearly ten times more than employees who felt positive emotions.   Some of the key drivers of Employee Engagement, as identified and found in some of the workforce engagement studies and researches, are provided below:

  -  employee  welfare,  empowerment,  employee  growth  and  interpersonal relationships (Mani, 2011).

  -  10  Cs  of  Employee  Engagement,  namely  Connect,  Career,  Clarity,  Convey, Congratulate,  Contribute,  Control,  Collaborate,  Credibility  &  Confidence  (Seijit  and   Crim 2006).

  -  Contributions, connections, growth and advancement (Wallace et al., 2006).

  -  Employee involvement and commitment (Britt et al., 2001).

  -  Leadership, relationships at work, total reward, recognition, work life balance and work itself (IES, 2004).

  -  Say, Stay and Strive (Hewitt, 2004).

  -  Job satisfaction, feeling valued and involved, equal opportunity, health and safety, length of service, communication and co-operation (IES, 2005)

  -  Rational – how well the employee understands roles/responsibilities; Emotional- how much passion employee can bring to work; and Motivational- how willing the employee is to invest discretionary effort to perform their role. (Towers Watson, 2009)

  -  Organizational culture and organizational communication (Bhatla, 2011).   -  Brand alignment, recognition, people/HR practices, and organization reputation (Aon Hewitt Consulting, 2011a, “Trends in global employee engagement”).

  The drivers above have also been supported by another  major study in employee engagement  as  published  by  the  Conference  Board’s  (2006),  “Employee  Engagement,   A  Review  of  Current  Research  and  Future  Direction”  which  was  based  on  12  research studies, of which four of the studies agreed on these eight key drivers of engagement:  

  • Trust and integrity – how well managers communicate and ‘walk the talk’;
  • Nature of the job – how mentally stimulating the day-to-day is;
  • Line  of  sight  between  employee  performance  and  company  performance  – understanding  of  the  employee  towards  their  work  that  contributes  to  the  company’s performance;
  • Career Growth opportunities – the future opportunities for growth;
  • Pride about the company – degree of self-esteem the employee feels by being associated with their work;
  • Coworkers/team members – degree of influence of one’s level of engagement;
  • Employee development – the company’s effort to develop the employee’s skills;
  • Relationship with one’s manager – degree to which the employee values his or her relationship with his or her manager.


Synthesized Generic Factors Condition of Engagement

  Based on the literature and discussion on engagement and its drivers above, all of which  are  similar  in  terms  of  the  key  drivers  and  rationale  driving  engagement  and approaches  to  and  measures  of  engagement, Table  1  shows  a  proposed  synthesis  of  the “factors  condition  of  engagement”  of  any  typical  organization,  with  these  factors  and conditions applied within the context of the a higher education institution.

Table 1  Synthesized Generic Factors and conditions of Engagement



  From  a  generic  organization  perspective,  the  synthesized  factors  can  be  broadly categorized into 4 key categorical areas of factorial conditions of:

  1)  Organizational Factors and conditions – This is from the main premise that key organizational factors which are more extrinsic in nature within the organization create an environment for other intrinsic factors to work within. These can be typified by the degree of conduciveness  of  the  organizational  environment  of  the  work  space,  infrastructures  and facilities, the organizational norms and culture, the organizational policies and procedures, organizational  practices  and  players. All  of  these  typify  the  collective  actions  towards organizational performance and pursuits of the organizational platform, on which the play is staged as a whole by the internal players with the external stakeholders. What and how the players perform and how well they will perform or intend to perform is dependent on their perception of the motivational tangible and intangible cost/benefits of the value additions proposed to them by the organization. Performance is related to their perception of the type / nature of the organization culture that they and their peers subscribe to as the work and behavioral norms within the organization. All of these lead to and affect how they perceive the quality of the processes affecting the final product or service quality. Basically, their performance is affected by and relates to their perceptions of these key organizational factors and conditions that thus show their degree of engagement and willingness to engage based on these organizational factors and conditions.

  2)  Psychological-Connect Climatic Conditions – People work and interact within a work  environment  that  is  not  static,  but  an  ongoing  ever  dynamic  and  multifarious  and multifaceted  set  of  human  interactions. While organizational factors are external  to  the human, the work performance is executed by a human and this goes into the psychological and psychosomatic domains where people have tried for centuries to fathom and solve this intriguing human puzzle, which ultimately might not be explained or is unfathomable. This has caused the world a multitude of problems and issues that show that decades of research and studies in comprehending the human intrigues and idiosyncrasies have always come to naught for the missing  one element  that lies in a single man’s psychological or emotive actions  that  are  contrary  to  basic  research  evidence. This  underscores  the  organization relationships  of  the  human  interactions  and  relations  based  on  their  interpretations  of information signals and the way or form and formats they are communicated across, all of which  have  an  individualistic  affectivity  on  actions  leading  to  the  manager-subordinate relationships contained within the influence of the external organizational factors. In reality, a relationship does not amount to much if they do not “connect” and the chemistry of connect goes beyond  the  normal  superficiality  of  relationship. The  intricacies  of  psychological affectivity of the human relationships, and at a more realistic level, the “real” connection chemistry  goes  into  the  blurry  area  of  human  psychosomatic  behavior  which  has  been studied,  but  presumably  would  be  more  aptly  categorized  as  individualistic  than  group behavior. This will be a more realistic determinant of the levels and degrees and depths of engagement  and  relational  engagement  in  the  work  situation  or  environment  leading  to commitment and involvement in the organization.

  3)  Personal  Disposition  Condition  Factors  –  This  goes  into  the  more  intrinsic individual  human  or  people-level  domain  that  is  more  personal  than  collective  actions. Humans live in a world based on their beliefs and their values conditioned or dictated by social norms which are demonstrated externally in a “herd mentality”, but not displaying the true internal intent or inherent disposition within the “heart and mind” which is individualistic and can drive real actions as opposed to social norms. These are not demonstrated openly but can affect the degree of intention and intensity of engagement, which ultimately cannot be totally forced due to intrapersonal-psychological affective resistance or heart-brain struggle of logic and feelings. But these intra dispositions can be influenced by other extrinsic factors, resulting in a reduced level of potential engagement.

  4)  Emotive Disposition Condition Factors – This key factor is based on both the psychological  and  personal  conditioning  factors,  as  they  shape  and  form  the  innate  and internal emotive response which is a “black hole” which science has tried to understand and interpret with a certain degree of presumptuous assertions. Ultimately, this is still based on the final emotive disposition of an individual which can be erratic and irrational to others but rational and acceptable during a split nanosecond impulsive decision of the decision maker. This is the main driving force of passions for work, pursuit of empowerment, the inclination and inspiration to work or not work, as well as engagement, disengagement or pretentious engagement.


Figure 1  4 T “Takes Two to Tango” Framework of Faculty- Student Engagement


Workplace  or  Workforce  Engagement  has  traditionally  been  studied  from  the unidirectional  approach  through  perception  studies  on  the  workforce  elements  affecting engagement behavior. In reality, researchers have oversimplified the engagement “connection chemistry”  and  its  multifaceted  and  multi-directional  interactions,  which  make  the “engagement equation” more complicated and complex than recognized.

  An analogy to this is the creation of a rhythmic and beautiful, yet successful Tango dance. For this to happen, it takes two to tango, with a pure flow of connection chemistry of both parties within a suitable set of environmental factors and supplementary fixtures. This “connection  chemistry”  is  also  affected  by  the  psychological,  emotional  and  personal dispositions of both parties. This means that these three dimensions must “connect and click” at all points of split nanosecond actions conditioned by these 3 main sets of factors and its sub-factors. This would inadvertently also mean that all these factors must “connect and click” at these split nanoseconds simultaneously to create a beautiful successful tango.

  To better understand the complexity involved in engaging both the student and the faculty, the analogy of the “Takes Two to Tango” can be applied to establish the faculty-student engagement framework. The premises of this “Takes Two to Tango” Faculty-Student engagement framework (Figure 1) are based on the factors and conditions discussed earlier and can be either a deterrent or an aspirant. Specifically these are:

  Premise  1:  For  a  successful  and  fruitful  faculty-student  engagement,  it  must  be established as a bi-relational and consensual agreement to connect for the chemistry action to click so that both parties can fully and emotionally engage.

  Premise 2: The factors and conditions of the “bi-relational and consensual agreement to connect for the chemistry action to click” that exist for both parties are similar. However, in an engaged situation these conditions and factors must be synchronized for a successful and fruitful faculty-student engagement.

  Premise  3:  These  factors  and  conditions,  when  synchronized,  demonstrate  a multitude of multifaceted directional interplays of the factors and conditions that ultimately create very complicated and complex “engagement situations” that can either be a set of aspirants or deterrents for a successful and fruitful faculty-student engagement. 

  Based on these premises under which the factors and conditions for each of the key faculty-student factors and conditions operates, the following section will discuss each of these factors and conditions from both sides of the parties that affects a successful and fruitful faculty-student engagement. These are:

  (1)  Organization Factors and Conditions – This set of factors and conditions deal with  paraphernalia,  the  “staged  set”,  the  physical  aspects  and  infrastructure,  external motivators, environmental setting where the engagement  and the split second interplay is played out by the faculty and student.

    Faculty and Student Perspectives – A faculty or student has a choice to choose to engage, disengage or partially engage or completely ignore the importance of engaging, which inherently means more time taken to make the faculty-student engagement successful and fruitful. Basically, since the components of these organizational factors are external to each party, it is subsumed that they affect both the faculty and student similarly. All these take place within the school place environment and infrastructure whereby the interactions take place  in  a  set  of  physical  settings  and  surroundings,  assisting  to  create  a  conducive environment  that  supports  the  quality  of  the  educational  process  and  its  final  product.  

This engagement is influenced by the set of motivational value that each party perceives to derive from this engagement and leads to the same output of a high quality product in the form of the student’s competencies and capacities. These motivational value propositions of the faculty involve the tangible and intangible incentives or requirements like the pay, cost/benefits,  extras,  additional  perks  and  privileges  or  just  the  fulfilment  of  the  basic  work requirements that motivate or demotivate the faculty’s contribution to this successful and fruitful faculty-student engagement. On the other hand, the motivational value proposition to the  student  can  further  development  of  student’s  self,  knowledge  and  skills  sets,  and propensity to operate under a more student centric or caring environment from a human that “cares” for his/her well-being. The profile of the institution or the institutional culture works the  same  way  for  both,  as  it  is  a  common  operant  to  both  in  terms  of  the  institution’s reputation, its standing and status, or a pervasive “caring” culture that places the human as the basic priority factor. This works the same way for both, as the better these factors are, the more the parties will work to maintain and sustain the profile and culture, thus forming a common platform of engagement.

  (2)  Psychological-Relational-Connection Factors and Conditions –  This set of factors and conditions goes into the relationship which to a certain extent can be superficial in nature, as the relationship will not work unless there is depth and breadth which is dependent on “the chemistry to connect”. Unless two person “connect and click”, the engagement just touches on the superficiality of needed necessity or requirements, the tip of the engagement iceberg.

  1. Information and Communication – The information science discipline is as intriguing as the psychological science especially when it examines the human domains of perception  and  interpretation  of  the  information  signals  from  sound,  sight  and  bodily collations, which vary  from  one  person to the next. The same set of information can be perceived  and  interpreted  differently  by  the  faculty  or  student  within  the  similar  set  of institutional  environment  and  settings  discussed  earlier.  In  the  high  speed  information technology era, these information signals are dispersed, communicated and received through a multitude of channels like mobile or virtual technologies or third party communications, which could be distorted through interpretations. This creates a more complicated situation whereby the faculty and student communicate, exchange and interpret information signals in the faculty-student engagement equation
  2. Stakeholder Orientation and Institutional Support – This is dependent on what and how the faculty and student perceive of the institution as an “orientation or culture towards all stakeholders of a good caring, positive and outwards looking and oriented” where the faculty-student engagement occurs. In this case, these are the emotive and psychological aspects of the physical hardware where the faculty-student engagement is staged. Technically, this  is  the  intangible  aspects  of  the  physical  hardware,  which  are  the  “software  and peopleware” aspects of the institution towards stakeholders and the support for the faculty-student engagement to “connect and click”.
  3. Involvement  and  Commitment  –  When  the  institution  embarks  on  the “engagement” imperatives to support better and more productive learning and development, the institution subsumes that both the faculty and student want to be engaged. The institution forgets that engagement cannot be willfully forced on two persons, if they do not wish to or if they prefer to distance themselves from this engagement due to psychological and emotive reasons, personal dispositions or perceptions and organization conditions that influence the degree of success of the faculty-student  engagement.  Each  faculty  and  student  have  the choice of their degree of involvement and commitment, and these cannot be forced or created but  can  be  supplemented  through  the  organization  settings,  environments  and  common understanding. These are intrinsic to each individual faculty and student as there could be a thousand  and  one  trivial  or  significant  or  insignificant  reasons  to  be  involved  or  be committed,  as  this  is  a  human  social  connection-clicking  factor  that  science  can  try  to understand but can only fathom or fantasize on scientific grounds, which are limited to lab studies.

  (3)  Personal Disposition Factors and Conditions – This goes into the personal values, beliefs or norms that each faculty or student choose to select and behave according to their fascinating but individualistic set of beliefs, which unfortunately cannot be dictated to a person, even though there is the pressure of social conformity, but in the end, it is a last minute individual decision that science could not possibly explain. No two faculty or students will have the same set of personal beliefs or values even though they work and live within the same or similar social norms but do not technically “breathe the same beliefs or values” within the establishment’s beliefs and values or norms. No amount of law or regulations can force “herding towards a common set of beliefs and norms”, as the personal disposition of the faculty and student is too individualistic to just pretend to accept or act within the societal beliefs or norms that will not dictate their unconscious choice of the work life or student life balance that one chooses, which is ultimately an individual choice or preferred condition.

  (4)  Emotive  Factors  and  conditions  –  This  set  of  emotive  determinants  is influenced by the psychological and personal disposition in the school place as conditioned by a set of organizational conditions where the faculty-student engagement is played out.   The key question here is whether the faculty or student is inspired or passionate enough to engage,  disengage  or  pretend  to  engage.  While  the  faculty  feels  that  s/he  has  the responsibility  to  engage,  the  school  settings  and  environment,  their  work  load,  their   work-social-life balance, what will inspire, empower or even make them to be passionate about engaging the students, and institutional mission or goals may play a significant role.   On the other hand, the students are already pushed by their immediate families or peers to do well to save the “face” of the family or for a better future through education, what can inspire or make them passionate to study. This can add to the engagement requirements, all of which are beyond the understanding of the normal student, or wanted by the students as these are more of a burden to be engaged with the faculty when they prefer to do what they want and hang out with their peers.


Implications and Recommendations

  An analogy is the fateful  June 23, 2016 event that marked the “Brexit – Britain Exit” exercised  when  the  U.K  divorced  itself  from  EU,  after  43  years  of  a  tumultuous confrontational  and  conflicting  relationship  that  did  not  show  any  forms  of  successful engagement  and  did  not  connect  or  click. This  relationship  clearly  missed  out  on  the chemistry of the connectivity required of a successful engagement. 

 This analogy also holds true to the success of faculty-student engagement. It does take two to tango to ensure successful engagement, as it is not in just a relationship between two parties or many parties. The relationship must connect and click with chemistry of both parties’ engagement to the function in an active, enthusiastic and dynamic matter. The above discussion of the “Takes Two to Tango” faculty-student engagement framework does paint a black picture that faculty-student engagement is a burden and will not work. On the contrary, this paper aims to demonstrate that full comprehension and understanding of the factors conditioning the two-way partnership between the faculty and student is an imperative to be studied and reviewed as opposed to the present line of thought that “engagement” is about the physical  attributes  of  the  environment  or  the  tangible  and  intangible  motivators  that influences a person to engage. These are just the superficial external factors and conditions, of  which  the  internal  personal  and  psychological  factors  and  conditions  are  what  really matters.

  (1)  Deterrents of Faculty-Student Engagement

  While  the  institution  can  set  the  stage  in  the  forms  of  the  supporting  external paraphernalia by creating a conductive environment or the tangible and intangible motivators or through rules and regulations, these are external factors where the engagement play is staged. These can be manipulated and orchestrated but it belies the real personal disposition in terms of being passionate and inspired for the faculty to engage when they are burdened with their primary roles of teaching and learning, research and societal responsibilities, social and  family  life  to  really  “care”  about  “kids  of  other  families”.  On the other  hand,  what inspires or make the student to be passionate about engaging with the faculty as they are duty bound to their family through studying for a better future in a “dog kill dog” society as imposed by the supposed to know all forebears and seniors who have gone through the same stages  but in another  era  and  time  dimensions of which the geo-political, social-cultural requirements have changed. Even if the two parties are inspired and passionate enough to make  the  engagement  relationship  work,  the  bottom  line  is  still  the  psychological  and emotive  factors  and  conditions,  though  studied  and  researched  as  shown  by  leading researchers  in  the  literature  discussion,  are  no  longer  in  the  domain  of  theoretical comprehension or understanding of the human behavior but the split nanosecond human decisions and actions that make both parties potentially connect and click. Unfortunately, this split nanosecond decision to connect and click normally occurs on two separate time-frame segments, where the faculty might have good intentions but the student is not ready or vice versa or the external institutional factors and conditions that interplay are not conducive or attractive as a stage or as motivational inducers. This would practically mean that all these theoretical aspects with good intents can fail to materialize as the psychological and personal and emotive factors reign as dominant mysterious factors that can change the faculty-student engagement equation from success to ultimate failures. This means that the faculty-student engagement cannot be forced as long as these inherent factors exist and “play the devilish” part of engagement.

  (2)  Aspirants of Faculty-Student Engagement

  While the deterrent factors and conditions do not paint a positive and successful picture of the faculty-student engagement equation, this does not mean that it spells the end of the faculty-student engagement’s pursuit of the betterment of the student achievements and development. A better comprehension and understanding of these strong and omnipresent personal,  emotive and  psychological  factors  and conditions  could  pave the  way  to  more fruitful and more successful faculty-student engagement Better comprehension and more understanding by both parties can potentially lead to a more amicable and desirable connect-click chemistry of engagement, as everyone has their own unique set of likes and dislikes, periodic  emotive  ups  and  downs,  introverted  or  extroverted  personal  nature,  and psychological  fleeting  moments  governing  decision  making  and  actions,  based  on  the interpretation  of  information  signals  and  communications  mechanisms. As  such,  these aspirants, when understood can be managed within one’s notions and desires, though it takes a longer time where the short periods and the program of study might not sustain a more fruitful faculty-student engagement.

  (3)  Recommendations

  Based on this discussion of the faculty-student engagement as a set of aspirants or deterrents factors condition, some recommendations are called for:

  1. Bi-directional two way faculty-engagement – This practically means that a one-sided study or research into the faculty-student will not work well as these engagements are  more  personal,  emotive  and  psychological  which  are  human  based. As  such,  future research or for that matter, to make faculty-student engagement work, one must look at it or approach it as a two way bi-directional personal, psychological and emotive of two human interactions.
  2. Psychological, personal and emotive factors and conditions – As discussed above, dealing with the external organizational factors and conditions are not adequate and appropriate. The external influencers are only the stage where the core behavioral aspects of the psychological, emotive and personal factors reign dominant as key influences of success. Fruitful faculty-student engagements need to be identified, studied and managed.

    iii.  Faculty-student  engagement  craze  –  While  the  faculty-student engagement  equation  is  potentially  a  very  strong  student  developer  focused  on  student-centricity  for the benefit  of  the  student as  hyped by  institutions,  the institutions  have to recognize that success is dependent on all the interplays of the multifarious and multifaceted factors  and  conditions.  These  should  be  better  comprehended  and  understood  before embarking  on  this  “engagement”  journey  which  should  be  longer  term  focused  and sustainable, and not be treated as a fleeting moment of infatuated fad.

  In conclusion, while this paper was aimed at reviewing the faculty engagement and the student engagement or faculty-student engagement, there are many more in-depth issues that  have  not  been  involved  and  need  to  be  studied. The  multifarious  and  multifaceted dimensions affecting faculty-student engagement that connect and click should be recognized and taken into consideration. Recognizing these can be deterring, but at the same time can lead to more successful and fruitful engagement of the faculty-student.



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