Engagement Drives Attendance



“Curiosity enhances learning.”  

–Robert Bilder, UCLA professor of Psychiatry


At Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education provider, students attend because it’s their last but new chance, because they’re cared about and for, and because they’re finally engaged in learning.

These students, adult and high school age, didn’t succeed at traditional high school primarily because of absenteeism.  They may have had family problems, no transportation, drug or crime issues, peer enticements, or plain lack of interest.  In all cases they didn’t attend.

Now they recognize the importance of finishing high school.  Horizonte daily provides a first of seven periods “advisory.”  The first period teacher/advisor has the responsibility of being a coach/advisor/teacher to each of her/his 20-25 advisees.

My advisory observations showed me that in spite of the teacher’s caring for and desiring to assist her/his advisees, if she/he didn’t engage the student in learning, that student became an infrequent attendee.

What better way to engage than to arouse a student’s curiosity?  Curiosity lights up the brain in ways that appear to enhance both learning and memory, according to researchers at the University of California at Davis.

In their study reported in the journal Neuron, “people are better at learning when they are curious about information, but curiosity also enhances memory for incidental material seen in passing.” What study participants learned while curious was retained better when they were tested 24 hours later.

“Our findings potentially have far-reaching implications for the public because they reveal insights into how curiosity affects memory.  These findings suggest ways to enhance learning in the classroom and other settings,” said Dr. Matthias Gruber, lead author of the UC Davis study.

Realizing that curiosity unites motivation and memory makes a caring Horizonte teacher successful.