Concluding Remarks

There are significant pressures on the higher education system in Canada, from austerity budgets, to massive open online courses to increasing student expectations with respect to technology use and flexible access, to business demands for highly skilled workers who are proficient not only in their craft, but also in thinking critically about complex issues. Higher education faculty and instructional designers have a duty to provide the structure and environment to encourage students to take deeper approaches to learning. In doing so, they will be creating an educational environment that promotes critical thinking, clear communication, and content-specific knowledge. The study buddy activity described and explored in this investigation is a simple activity that can be implemented in a wide variety of educational contexts; it has been shown to increase levels of social engagement in a way that also increases academic engagement. Faculty and instructional designers should feel confident that the activity can improve student outcomes, and students can also know that engaging with the activity will be well worth the time and effort involved.