Measuring Student Engagement in High School Classrooms and What We Have Learned

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


This chapter explains the methodology undergirding many of the studies on which this book is based. Those studies examine students’ engagement from moment to moment while in educational contexts with the experience sampling method, or ESM. Respondents of these studies carried a paging device (usually a programmable wristwatch), which signals them at random moments throughout the day. Each time they were signaled, they completed a brief questionnaire in which they answered open-ended and scaled questions about the day and time of the signal, their activities and thoughts, as well as the cognitive, affective, and motivational qualities of their experience. To study engagement, my colleagues and I analyzed ESM reports occurring while in schools exclusively, and especially while in classrooms, from the Sloan Study of Youth and Social Development (SSYSD), a nationally representative study conducted at the University of Chicago. On average, high school students report being less engaged while in classrooms than in almost any other setting in which they spend significant time. Students felt significantly more engaged, however, given certain perceptions of both instruction and themselves. Concentration, attentiveness, and overall engagement were significantly enhanced, for example, when instruction was perceived as challenging, relevant, and appropriately challenging and when students perceived themselves to be active, in control, and competent. Students were also significantly more engaged in group and individual work than while listening to a lecture or watching TV or a video. Students in our sample were also significantly more engaged in their nonacademic courses than in their academic ones.


High School Student Intrinsic Motivation Student Engagement Cooperative Learning Experience Sampling Method 
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 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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