High School Reform and Student Engagement

  • Marcia H. DavisEmail author
  • James M. McPartland


This chapter describes how internal high school reforms can be aimed at six different dimensions of student motivation and engagement. Students will respond to more accessible immediate rewards such as good grades and teacher praise when high schools improve with focused extra help for needy students and other interventions to narrow skill gaps or recognize individual progress. Students will benefit from embedded intrinsic interest in their school program when innovations are introduced to challenge their minds and creativity. Students will find more functional relevance in their studies when high schools integrate academic and career education. Students will enjoy a more positive interpersonal climate for learning when high schools use smaller learning communities with teacher teams and advisors. Students will find opportunities to exercise their own personal nonacademic talents when schools provide more diverse electives and extracurricular activities. Students will feel more connected to shared communal norms when high schools practice fair disciplinary procedures and provide for some shared decision-making. Different combinations and sequences of high school reforms are discussed in terms of implementation strategies and the interactions of the six dimensions of student motivation and engagement. High school reform can be aimed at either the external constraints and incentives for school improvement or the internal conditions for student engagement and learning. This chapter puts reforms of the internal conditions in the context of alternative strategies for improving American high schools and examines six different aspects of student engagement in high school and how specific internal reform efforts can activate and maximize each component.


Intrinsic Motivation Student Engagement Student Motivation Mastery Goal Personal Strength 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Social Organization of SchoolsJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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