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Session Overview
PAP-18: Engagement and Learning
Time: Thursday, 30/Aug/2012: 9:00am - 10:30am
Session Chair: Serge Dupont, University of Louvain
Location: 454


School Engagement along Basic School: Components, changes and predictive power.

Isabel Roque1, Marina Serra Lemos1, Teresa Gonçalves2

1Faculty of Psychology and Education of the University of Porto (Portugal), Portugal; 2College of Education of the Polithecnic Institute of Viana do Castelo (Portugal)

Motivation plays an important role in students’ learning and academic success. An motivational outcome is engagement defined as the intensity and quality of student’s involvement in initiating and carrying out learning activities. Engagement comprises behavioral and emotional components and is both an indicator of academic achievement and a variable that can affect school outcomes. Based on Skinner and collaborator’s engagement scale (Skinner, Wellborn & Connell, 1990) we developed an adapted version to assess the engagement of students in the classroom activities. The scale includes nine behavioral and emotional items, designed to distinguish two poles of a motivational continuum: disaffection/lack of interest, and motivation/engagement. Teachers report on a multiple choice check list, the extent to which the student actively participates in class and the student’s classroom emotions.

Examination of the eigenvalues and scree plot, in the principal-components analysis, suggested a one-factor solution, including the behavioral and emotional dimensions. Each of the 9 items loaded .70 or higher on this one factor, which accounted for 58% to 63% of the variance. Generally, the emotional items were more quoted than the behavioral items. The correlations between both types of items were moderate to strong and they increased along schooling. Items were internally consistent across grades (α ranging from .88 to .93).

In a longitudinal study (from January 2001 to January 2008), following the same group of students (grades 4th–9th, n= 245), using hierarchical linear models, we observed a decrease of engagement and a strong positive impact of engagement in academic achievement.

Age Trends in Classroom Engagement from 4th to 12th Grade

David A. Bergin, Christi Bergin, Ze Wang

University of Missouri, United States of America

Engagement in the classroom, where children spend a substantial percentage of their time, is foundational to social and academic success at school. There is general agreement that there are three dimensions of classroom engagement: affective, cognitive, and behavioral (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004).


This cross-sectional study investigates engagement from 4th to 12th grade among 3,650 students in a Midwestern U.S. school district. Classroom Engagement Inventory (CEI) surveys were administered at the same time across entire buildings.


Across all class subjects and dimensions of engagement, classroom engagement declined each year from 4th to 8th grade, and then rose each year from 10th to 12th grade. Elementary students reported significantly higher affective, behavioral, and cognitive engagement than middle school and high school students, and lower disengagement. Engagement in math classes steadily plummeted from 4th to 12th grade, without the rebound seen in language arts and science.


The present study found that in-class engagement varied by grade level. Previous research has found a pattern of declining engagement, motivation, and interest. However, few previous studies have included students in late high school, where we found a rebound in engagement, except for math.

A Many Layered Thing: Student Engagement in an Alternative High School Community

Gavin Tierney

University of Washington, United States of America

Literature on engagement has largely focused on how certain practices foster disciplinary engagement. As yet there is little within engagement literature that looks specifically at the interaction of academic and non-academic engagement. This study aims to explore the multiple layers of student engagement. Specifically, this study looks at the ways students engage simultaneously in multiple academic, social, and personal figured worlds (Holland et al., 2000, Horn et al., 2008, Nolen et al., 2011) in the context of an alternative high school. Grounded in engagement literature, theories of figured worlds and communities of practice, this qualitative case study focuses on interview and observation data of two students from the same class, ultimately observing them in other classroom environments. Initial results show the ways in which teachers and schools value interpersonal relationships increases lamination of figured worlds, leading to student feelings of belonging and percieved value in the curriculum and school.

Development of a Measure of Classroom Engagement (Not to be Confused with School Engagement)

David A. Bergin, Ze Wang, Christi Bergin, Renee Jamroz

University of Missouri, United States of America

There is a dearth of comprehensive yet quick-to-administer measures of in-class engagement (Fredricks et al., 2011). A measure of classroom engagement could be used to document effects of interventions. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the development of the Classroom Engagement Inventory (CEI).

Classroom engagement refers to a student’s active involvement in classroom learning activities. There is general agreement that there are three dimensions of classroom engagement: affective, cognitive, and behavioral (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). While many measures mix classroom-level and school-level engagement, we focus on classroom engagement. The same student could be highly engaged in one class, but not in others.

In Study 1, we developed the CEI using EFA and CFA with over 3000 students. In Study 2, we again surveyed over 3000 students and refined the items using CFA. As a test of validity, we correlated factors with self-efficacy, teacher practices that require deep thinking, goal orientation, school prompted interest, and self-reported grades. After testing 7 different models, we concluded that a five-factor model was best. Measurement invariance existed for school level (elementary, middle, and high school), ethnicity (White and non-White), free/reduced lunch status (as a proxy for SES), gender, and core subject area. Factor scores from the CFA model correlated significantly with teacher behaviors (e.g., encouraging deep thinking), student self-efficacy, goal orientation, school-prompted interest, and self-reported grades. The CEI has increasing evidence of validity.

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