Publication Date: 2003-09-00
Author: Chapman, Elaine
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation
Assessing Student Engagement Rates. ERIC Digest.
Given the emphasis placed on levels of academic achievement in schools,
the way in
"WHAT IS STUDENT ENGAGEMENT?"
Early studies of student engagement often focused on time-on-task behaviors
Another definition focuses on more subtle cognitive, behavioral, and affective indicators of student engagement in specific learning tasks. This orientation is reflected well in the definition offered by Skinner & Belmont (1993):
Children who are engaged show sustained behavioral involvement in learning activities accompanied by a positive emotional tone. They select tasks at the border of their competencies, initiate action when given the opportunity, and exert intense effort and concentration in the implementation of learning tasks; they show generally positive emotions during ongoing action, including enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, and interest.
The opposite of engagement is disaffection. Disaffected children are
passive, do not tryhard, and give up easily in the face of challenges [they
can] be bored, depressed,
From a different perspective, Pintrich and & De Groot (1990) associated engagement levels with students' use of cognitive, meta-cognitive and self-regulatory strategies to monitor and guide their learning processes. In this view, student engagement is viewed as motivated behavior apparent from the kinds of cognitive strategies students choose to use (e.g., simple or "surface" processing strategies such as rehearsal versus "deeper" processing strategies such as elaboration), and by their willingness to persist with difficult tasks by regulating their own learning behavior.
Use of cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies (e.g., I went back over
things I didn't
"HOW IS STUDENT ENGAGEMENT MEASURED?"
The most common way that student engagement is measured is through information
"Self-Reports." Students may be asked to complete surveys or questionnaires
In addition to asking the question of whether students are engaged in
"Checklists and Rating Scales." In addition to student self-report measures, a few studies have used summative rating scales to measure student engagement levels. For example, the teacher report scales used by Skinner & Belmont (1993) asked teachers to assess their students' willingness to participate in school tasks (i.e., effort, attention, and persistence during the initiation and execution of learning activities, such as "When faced with a difficult problem, this student doesn't try"), as well as their emotional reactions to these tasks (i.e., interest versus boredom, happiness versus sadness, anxiety and anger, such as "When in class, this student seems happy"). The Teacher Questionnaire on Student Motivation to Read developed by Sweet, Guthrie, & Ng (1996) asks teachers to report on factors relating to student engagement rates, such as activities (e.g., enjoys reading about favorite activities), autonomy (e.g., knows how to choose a book he or she would want to read), and individual factors (e.g., is easily distracted while reading).
"Direct Observations." Although self-report scales are widely used, the validity of the data yielded by these measures will vary considerably with students' abilities to accurately assess their own cognitions, behaviors, and affective responses (Assor & Connell, 1992). Direct observations are often used to confirm students' reported levels of engagement in learning tasks. A number of established protocols are available in this area (e.g., Ellett & Chauvin, 1991). Most of these observational studies have used some form of momentary time sampling system. In these methods, the observer records whether a behavior was present or absent at the moment that the time interval ends or else during a specific time period.
In classwide observations, approximately 5 minutes of observational data can generally be collected on each target student per lesson. Thus, a 30-minute observation period would allow observations of approximately 5 target students, with 6 to 7 sessions being required to observe a full class. In addition, to obtain a representative sample of students' behavior over the full course of a lesson, observations are generally rotated across students so that each student is observed continuously for only one minute at a time.
"Work Sample Analyses." Evidence of higher-order problem-solving and metacognitive learning strategies can be gathered from sources such as student projects, portfolios, performances, exhibitions, and learning journals or logs (e.g., Royer, Cisero, & Carlo, 1993; Wolf, et al., 1990). The efficacy of these methods hinges on the use of suitably structured tasks and scoring rubrics. For example, a rubric to assess the application of higher-order thinking skills in a student portfolio might include criteria for evidence of problem-solving, planning, and self-evaluation in the work. A number of formal and informal protocols for assessing students' self-regulated learning strategies also incorporate components that focus on metacognitive skills (e.g., Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990; Ward & Traweek, 1993). The Metacognitive Knowledge Monitoring Assessment and the Assessment of Cognitive Monitoring Effectiveness are more targeted measures suitable for use in classroom situations and with demonstrated sound psychometric properties in empirical evaluations (Osborne, 2001).
"Focused Case Studies." When the focus of an investigation is restricted
to a small
Teachers interested in assessing student engagement in the classroom should consider using separate measures to get at the cognitive, affective, and behavioral aspects of task engagement. Within each of these domain areas, using a range of methods can also strengthen the validity of findings and provide alternative perspectives on the results. Teachers may wish to include measures that address the question of why students do, or do not, engage with particular types of tasks. Clearly, however, final decisions on protocol components must also take into account any practical constraints within the given context.
Assor, A., & Connell, J.P. (1992). The validity of students' self-reports as measures of performance-affecting self-appraisals. In D.H. Schunk & J. Meece (Eds.), Student Perceptions in the Classroom (pp.25-46). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
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Royer, J.M., Cisero, C.A., & Carlo, M.S. (1993). Techniques and
Skinner, E.A., & Belmont, M.J. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4): 571-581.
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