Teacher self-report on learner engagement strategies in the early years classroom

  • Deb Keen
  • Donna Pennell
  • Sandy Muspratt
  • Shiralee Poed
Original paper


Effective engagement of young children in the classroom is a critical step toward achieving positive learning outcomes. The Learning and Engagement Questionnaire (LEQ) was developed by the first two authors to identify ways in which teachers strive to engage learners in the classroom. In this study, the factor structure of the LEQ is examined. Participants were 274 teachers of children in their first 3 years of formal schooling. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted and supported a five factor solution: Goal Directed Learning; Task Selection; Teacher Responsiveness; Intensive Teaching; and Planning the Learning Environment.


Learner engagement Child engagement Engagement measure Teachers 


  1. Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1997). Caring school communities. Educational Psychologist, 32, 137–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blatchford, P. (2003). A systematic observational study of teachers’ and pupils’ behaviour in large and small classes. Learning and Instruction, 13, 569–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bryant, F., & Yarnold, P. (1995). Principal components analysis and exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. In L. Grimm & P. Yarnold (Eds.), Reading and understanding multivariate statistics (pp. 99–136). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  4. Burns, R. (2000). Introduction to research methods (4th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Longman.Google Scholar
  5. Burstein, L., McDonnell, L., Van Winkle, J., Ormseth, T. H., Mirocha, J., & Guiton, G. (1995). Validating national curriculum indicators. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.Google Scholar
  6. Cattell, R. (1966). The scree test for the number of factors. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 1, 245–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cooksey, R. (2007). Illustrating statistical procedures: For business, behavioural and social science research. Prahran, Vic.: Tilde University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Endicott, K., & Higbee, T. S. (2007). Contriving motivating operations to evoke mands for information in preschoolers with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 1, 210–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74, 59–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fuchs, L. S. (2002). Best practices in defining student goals and outcomes. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV (pp. 553–563). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.Google Scholar
  11. Fulmer, S. M., & Frijters, J. C. (2009). A review of self-report and alternative approaches in the measurement of student motivation. Educational Psychology Review, 21, 219–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gorsuch, R. (1983). Factor analysis. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. Graue, E., Hatch, K., Rao, K., & Oen, D. (2007). The wisdom of class-size reduction. American Educational Research, 44, 670–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Greenwood, C. R., Carta, J. J., & Dawson, H. (2000). Ecobehavioral assessment systems software (EBASS): A system for observation in education settings. In T. Thompson, D. Felce, & F. J. Symons (Eds.), Behavioral observation: Technology and applications in developmental disabilities (pp. 229–251). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  15. Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  16. Hattie, J. (2005). The paradox of reducing class size and improving learning outcomes. International Journal of Educational Research, 43, 387–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Helf, S., Cooke, N. L., & Flowers, C. P. (2009). Effects of two grouping conditions on students who are at risk for reading failure. Preventing School Failure, 53, 113–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Horn, J. (1965). A rationale and test for the number of factors in factor analysis. Psychometrica, 30, 179–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Howes, C., Burchinal, M., Pianta, R., Bryant, D., Early, D., Clifford, R. M., et al. (2008). Ready to learn? Children’s pre-academic achievement in pre-kindergarten programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 27–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hughes, J. N., Luo, W., Kwok, O., & Loyd, L. K. (2008). Teacher-student support, effortful engagement, and achievement: A 3-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Keen, D., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (2009). Assessment, disability, student engagement and responses to intervention. In C. M. Wyatt-Smith & J. Cumming (Eds.), Educational assessment in the 21st century: Connecting theory and practice. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer International.Google Scholar
  22. Kishida, Y., & Kemp, C. (2006). A measure of engagement for children with intellectual disabilities in early childhood settings: A preliminary study. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 31, 101–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mahoney, G., Kaiser, A., Girolametto, L., MacDonald, J., Robinson, C., Safford, P., et al. (1999). Parent education in early intervention: A call for a renewed focus. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 19, 131–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mahoney, G., & Wheeden, C. (1998). Effects of teacher style on the engagement of preschool aged children with special learning needs. Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders, 2, 293–315.Google Scholar
  25. Mahoney, G., & Wheeden, C. A. (1999). The effect of teacher style on interactive engagement of preschool-aged children with special learning needs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 14, 51–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McWilliam, R. A., & Bailey, D. B. (1992). Promoting engagement and mastery. In D. B. Bailey & M. Wolery (Eds.), Teaching infants and preschoolers with disabilities (2nd ed., pp. 230–255). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. McWilliam, R. A., & Bailey, D. B. (1995). Effects of classroom social structure and disability on engagement. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 15, 123–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McWilliam, R. A., & de Kruif, R. E. L. (1998). E-Qual III: Children’s engagement codes. Chapel Hill, NC: Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
  29. McWilliam, R. A., Zulli, R. A., & de Kruif, R. E. L. (1998). Teaching styles rating scale. Chapel Hill, NC: Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
  30. Morrison, K., & Rosales-Ruiz, J. (1997). The effect of object preference on task performance and stereotypy in a child with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 18, 127–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muthén, L., & Muthén, B. (2008). Mplus short courses topic 2: Regression analysis, exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling for categorical, censored, and count outcomes. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén. Available at: www.statmodel.com.
  32. O’Neill, S., & Stephenson, J. (2009). Teacher involvement in the development of function-based behaviour intervention plans for students with challenging behaviour. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 33, 6–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. O’Connor, B. (2000). SPSS and SAS programs for determining the number of components using parallel analysis and Velicer’s MAP test. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 32, 402–729.Google Scholar
  34. Odom, S. L., Favazza, P. C., Brown, W. H., & Horn, E. M. (2000). Approaches to understanding the ecology of early childhood environments for children with disabilities. In T. Thompson, D. Felce, & F. J. Symons (Eds.), Behavioral observation: Technology and applications in developmental disabilities (pp. 193–214). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  35. Reinhartsen, D., Garfinkle, A., & Wolery, M. (2002). Engagement with toys in two-year-old children with autism: Teacher selection versus child choice. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 27, 175–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ruble, L. A., & Robson, D. M. (2007). Individual and environmental determinants of engagement in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1457–1468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Skinner, E. A., Wellborn, J. G., & Connell, J. P. (1990). What it takes to do well in school and whether I’ve got it: The role of perceived control in children’s engagement and school achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 22–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Smeltzer, S., Graff, R. B., Ahearn, W. H., & Libby, M. E. (2009). Effect of choice of task sequence on responding. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 734–742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tabachnick, B., & Fidell, L. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed.). Boston, MA.: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  40. Thompson, B. (2004). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: Understanding concepts and applications. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Umbreit, J., & Blair, K. S. (1996). The effects of preference, choice, and attention on problem behavior at school. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 3, 151–161.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deb Keen
    • 1
  • Donna Pennell
    • 1
  • Sandy Muspratt
    • 2
  • Shiralee Poed
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Education, Brisbane CampusAustralian Catholic UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  3. 3.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations