Beyond Classroom Academics: A School-Wide and Multi-Contextual Perspective on Student Engagement in School
School engagement researchers have historically focused on academic engagement or academic-related activities. Although academic engagement is vital to adolescents’ educational success, school is a complex developmental context in which adolescents also engage in social interactions while exploring their interests and developing competencies. In this article, school engagement is re-conceptualized as a multi-contextual construct that includes both academic and social contexts of school. The authors begin by describing how the characteristics of these contexts provide the opportunities and resources for adolescents to engage in academic learning and social interactions throughout school. Motivational theories are then used as an operational framework for understanding how adolescents become engaged in school, which is followed by a discussion about how adolescents’ academic and social engagement interact to shape their academic achievement. The article concludes with implications for practice and future research.
KeywordsSchool engagement Academic achievement Academic engagement Social engagement Adolescent development
MTW conceived of the study, participated in the literature review, and drafted the full manuscript; TH drafted the literature review and model discussion and provided feedback on the full draft. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Ming-Te Wang was funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant number DA034151-02) and National Science Foundation (Grant number 1315943).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interests.
- Allen, J., Gregory, A., Mikami, A., Lun, J., Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2013). Observations of effective teacher-student interactions in secondary school classrooms: Predicting student achievement with the classroom assessment scoring system-secondary. School Psychology Review, 42, 76.Google Scholar
- Connell, J. P. (1990). Context, self, and action: A motivational analysis of self-system processes across the life span. The Self in Transition: Infancy to Childhood, 8, 61–97.Google Scholar
- Connell, J. P., & Wellborn, J. G. (1991). Competence, autonomy, and relatedness: A motivational analysis of self-system processes. In M. R. Gunnar & L. A. Sroufe (Eds.), Self processes in development: Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology (Vol. 23, pp. 43–77). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Eccles, J., & Roeser, R. (2009). Schools, academic motivation, and stage-environment fit. In R. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd edn., pp. 404–434). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Hall-Lande, J. A., Eisenberg, M. E., Christenson, S. L., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2007). Social isolation, psychological health, and protective factors in adolescence. Adolescence, 42, 265–286.Google Scholar
- Juvonen, J. (2006). Sense of belonging, social relationships, and school functioning. In P. A. Alexander & P. H. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology (2nd edn., pp. 655–674). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Lance, K. C. (2002). Impact of school library media programs on academic achievement. Teacher Librarian, 29, 29.Google Scholar
- LaRusso, M. D., Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., & Aber, J. L. (2009). Schools as whole units: The complexities of studying the multiple contexts within schools. In L. M. Dinella (Ed.), Conducting psychology research in school-based settings: A practical guide for researchers conducting high quality science within school environments. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Mahoney, J. L., Larson, R. W., & Eccles, J. S. (2005). Organizing activities as developmental contexts for children and adolescents. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers Mahwah.Google Scholar
- Midgley, C. (2002). Goals, goal structures, and patterns of adaptive learning. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Morrison, F. J., Bachman, H. J., & Connor, C. M. (2005). Current perspectives in psychology. Improving literacy in America: Guidelines from research.Google Scholar
- Niemiec, C. P., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom: Applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7, 133–144.Google Scholar
- Rimm-Kaufman, S. (2004). School transition and school readiness: An outcome of early childhood development. In R. E. Tremblay, R. G. Barr, R. DeV & Peters (Eds.), Encyclopedia on early childhood development (pp. 1–7). Montreal: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.Google Scholar
- Roeser, R. W., Eccles, J. S., & Sameroff, A. J. (2000). School as a context of early adolescents’ academic and social-emotional development: A summary of research findings. The Elementary School Journal, 443–471.Google Scholar
- Schunk, D. H., Pintrich, P. R., & Meece, J. L. (2002). Motivation in education: theory, research, and application. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.Google Scholar
- Skinner, E. A. (2016). Engagement and disaffection as central to processes of motivational resilience development. In K. Wentzel & D. Miele (Eds.), Handbook of Motivation at School (2nd edn., pp. 145–168). Malwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Skinner, E. A., Kindermann, T. A., Connell, J. P., & Wellborn, J. G. (2009). Engagement and disaffection as organizational constructs in the dynamics of motivational development. In K. Wenzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 223–246). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Skinner, E. A., Kindermann, T. A., & Furrer, C. J. (2009). A motivational perspective on engagement and disaffection: Conceptualization and assessment of children’s behavioral and emotional participation in academic activities in the classroom. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 69, 493–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wang, M. T., & Amemiya, J. L. (2019). Changing beliefs to be engaged in school: Using integrated mindset interventions to promote student engagement during school transitions. In J. Fredricks, A. Reschly, & S. Christenson (Eds.), Handbook of Student Engagement Intervention. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Wang, M. T., & Degol, J. (2014). Stay engaged: Current knowledge and future directions of student engagement research. Child Development Perspectives, 17, 24–29.Google Scholar
- Wang, M. T., Fredricks, J. A., Ye, F., Hofkens, T. L., & Schall, J. (2018). Conceptualization and assessment of adolescents’ engagement and disengagement in school. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 1, 1–16.Google Scholar
- Wang, M. T., Hill, N. E., & Hofkens, T. (2014). Parental involvement and African American and European American adolescents’ academic, behavioral, and emotional development in secondary school. Child Development, 85, 2151–2168.Google Scholar
- Wentzel, K. R. (1992). Motivation and achievement in adolescence: A multiple goals perspective. In D. Schunk & J. Meece (Eds.), Student perceptions in the classroom (pp. 287–306). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Wentzel, K. R. (2009). Peers and academic functioning at school. In K. H. Rubin, W. M. Bukowski & B. Laursen (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 531–547). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Wigfield, A., Byrnes, J. P., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Development during early and middle adolescence. Handbook of educational psychology, 2, 87–113.Google Scholar