The Nature of Engagement in Schools

  • David J. Shernoff
Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


In this chapter, several conceptualizations of student engagement were evaluated, and those that stress the interaction between an organism and its environment were favored over those that stress positive or successful adaptation to school environments specifically. The latter are particularly vulnerable to idealizing procedural engagement (i.e., appearing to be engaged in terms of following the procedures of schooling) rather than substantive engagement (characterized by a persistent depth of cognitive processing and emotional involvement). Similarly, student engagement was distinguished from motivation thought to be primarily the property of an individual. Many theories of motivation help to illuminate obstacles to engagement in schools. A conceptualization of engagement was adapted in which concentration, enjoyment, and interest are simultaneously heightened. Each of these experiential traits is fundamental to growing and learning, as detailed in this chapter. When concentration, interest, and enjoyment are simultaneously elevated, individuals have experiences similar to flow that seem to fuse aspects of both leisure and work experiences. Engagement that is both work-like and play-like is herein considered to describe meaningful engagement.


Intrinsic Motivation Student Engagement School Engagement Mastery Goal Cognitive Engagement 
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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Shernoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations College of EducationNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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