Engagement as an Individual Trait and Its Relationship to Achievement

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


Group differences in engagement have been found by gender as well as race and ethnicity, among other individual-level variables. Studies using the experience sampling method (ESM) in particular have found an “engagement–achievement paradox” in which students from low SES communities and African American students have reported higher levels of engagement in school despite underachieving relative to their peers. This may be attributed, in part, to the decline in engagement white students and those from high SES communities experience when in school compared to the home and public context. Research shows that the obsessive focus on achievement within a culture of competition can have deleterious effects on engagement and authentic interest in learning. Theories of social reproduction postulate that schools, especially their most competitive features, are mechanisms for reproducing class advantage from one generation to the next, thus stabilizing the socioeconomic status quo through time. However, research suggests that a focus on competitive success in school is frequently accompanied by an undermining of meaningful forms of engagement in learning.


High School Student Student Engagement Black Student White Student African American Student 
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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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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