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Student Engagement: What Is It? Why Does It Matter?

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Handbook of Research on Student Engagement

Abstract

This chapter considers the relationships of student engagement with ­academic achievement, graduating from high school, and entering postsecondary schooling. Older and newer models of engagement are described and critiqued, and four common components are identified. Research on the relationship of each component with academic outcomes is reviewed. The main themes are that engagement is essential for learning, that engagement is multifaceted with behavioral and psychological components, that engagement and disengagement are developmental and occur over a period of years, and that student engagement can be modified through school policies and practices to improve the prognoses of students at risk. The chapter concludes with a 13-year longitudinal study that shows the relationships of academic achievement, behavioral and affective engagement, and dropping out of high school.

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Notes

  1. 1.

     Adapted from Fredericks et al. (2004, p. 60).

  2. 2.

     Correlations for the other scales are discussed under Cognitive Engagement and Social Engagement.

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Appendix

Appendix

Fourth Grade

Student Participation Questionnaire

The codes in parentheses indicate the subscale to which the item belongs:

 

Subscale reliability

E  =  Effort

.94

I  =  Initiative

.89

N  =  Nonparticipatory behavior

.89

V  =  Value

.68

The sign (+, −) indicates the direction of scoring. Items marked “−” should be reverse-scored before summing the items in the subscale.

(Items 29–31 are not part of these subscales).

Notes:

The items in this questionnaire have been combined in different ways for use in different research studies.

This questionnaire is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Notification to the author is requested.

The eighth-grade version of the questionnaire is available from the author upon request.

Fourth Grade

Student Participation Questionnaire

Student’s Name:________________________________________________________________

Below are items that describe children’s behavior in school. Please consider the behavior of the student named above over the last 2–3  months. Circle the number that indicates how often the child exhibits the behavior. Please answer every item.

 

This student:

Never

 

Sometimes

 

Always

(E+)

 1. pays attention in class

1

2

3

4

5

(E+)

 2. completes homework on time

1

2

3

4

5

(E+)

 3. works well with other children

1

2

3

4

5

(E−)

 4. loses, forgets, or misplaces materials

1

2

3

4

5

(E−)

 5. comes late to class

1

2

3

4

5

(I+)

 6. attempts to do his/her work thoroughly and well, rather than just trying to get by

1

2

3

4

5

(N+)

 7. acts restless, is often unable to sit still

1

2

3

4

5

(I+)

 8. participates actively in discussions

1

2

3

4

5

(E+)

 9. completes assigned seat work

1

2

3

4

5

(V+)

10. thinks that school is important

1

2

3

4

5

(N+)

11. needs to be reprimanded

1

2

3

4

5

(N+)

12. annoys or interferes with peers’ work

1

2

3

4

5

(E+)

13. is persistent when confronted with difficult problems

1

2

3

4

5

(E−)

14. does not seem to know what is going on in class

1

2

3

4

5

(I+)

15. does more than just the assigned work

1

2

3

4

5

(I−)

16. is withdrawn, uncommunicative

1

2

3

4

5

(E+)

17. approaches new assignments with sincere effort

1

2

3

4

5

(V−)

18. is critical of peers who do well in school

1

2

3

4

5

(I+)

19. asks questions to get more information

1

2

3

4

5

(N+)

20. talks with classmates too much

1

2

3

4

5

(E−)

21. does not take independent initiative, must be helped to get started, and kept going on work

1

2

3

4

5

(E−)

22. prefers to do easy problems rather than hard ones

1

2

3

4

5

(V−)

23. criticizes the importance of the subject matter

1

2

3

4

5

(E+)

24. tries to finish assignments even when they are difficult

1

2

3

4

5

(I+)

25. raises his/her hand to answer a question or volunteer information.

1

2

3

4

5

(I+)

26. goes to dictionary, encyclopedia, or other reference on his/her own to seek information

1

2

3

4

5

(E−)

27. gets discouraged and stops trying when encounters an obstacle in schoolwork, is easily frustrated

1

2

3

4

5

(I+)

28. engages teacher in conversation about subject matter before or after school, or outside of class

1

2

3

4

5

 

29. attends other school activities such as athletic contests, carnivals, and fund-raising events

1

2

3

4

5

 

30. The student’s overall academic performance is

Above average

 

Average

 

Below average

    

1

2

3

 

31. Does this student attend special education classes outside of your classroom?

  

No

 

Yes

     

1

2

Thank you for your time. Please enclose the teacher/class information sheet and all the questionnaires—those completed and not complete—in the envelope provided and return it to your principal.

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Finn, J.D., Zimmer, K.S. (2012). Student Engagement: What Is It? Why Does It Matter?. In: Christenson, S., Reschly, A., Wylie, C. (eds) Handbook of Research on Student Engagement. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-2018-7_5

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