Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 390–401 | Cite as

What Makes Students Engaged in Learning? A Time-Use Study of Within- and Between-Individual Predictors of Emotional Engagement in Low-Performing High Schools

  • Sira ParkEmail author
  • Susan D. Holloway
  • Amanda Arendtsz
  • Janine Bempechat
  • Jin Li
Empirical Research


Adolescents’ emotional engagement plays a critical role in promoting their academic performance as well as overall psychological wellbeing. As a part of a 3-year longitudinal study, this study drew upon self-determination theory to examine three psychological predictors of emotional engagement within specific learning contexts. Ninety-four, low socioeconomic status (SES), ninth grade students (49% male; 32 Blacks, 30 Whites, and 32 Latinos) rated the perceived fulfillment of their autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs and their emotional engagement in learning settings at multiple time points over a 1-week period. Hierarchical linear modeling showed that the students’ ratings of their psychological-need fulfillment and of their emotional engagement fluctuated over time and across contexts. After accounting for student gender, race/ethnicity, and prior achievement, we found that the fulfillment of each type of psychological need in a particular learning context was related to emotional engagement in that context (i.e., within-student level). The fulfillment of students’ need for autonomy also was related to their emotional engagement at the aggregated level (i.e., between-student level). These findings illustrate how the psychological affordances of particular learning settings are associated with emotional engagement within and between students from low SES backgrounds.


Self-determination Emotional engagement Within- and between-individual predictors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sira Park
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan D. Holloway
    • 1
  • Amanda Arendtsz
    • 1
  • Janine Bempechat
    • 2
  • Jin Li
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Education, Cognition and Development, Graduate School of EducationUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentWheelock CollegeBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of EducationBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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