Beyond Classroom Academics: A School-Wide and Multi-Contextual Perspective on Student Engagement in School

  • Ming-Te WangEmail author
  • Tara L. Hofkens
Narrative Review


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.


School engagement Academic achievement Academic engagement Social engagement Adolescent development 


Authors’ Contributions

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.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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