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Student Engagement in Instructional Activity: Patterns in the Elementary, Middle, and High School Years

Helen M. Marks
American Educational Research Journal
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 153-184
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1163475
Page Count: 32
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Student Engagement in Instructional Activity: Patterns in the Elementary, Middle, and High School Years
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Abstract

Although student engagement with the intellectual work of school is important to students' achievement and to their social and cognitive development, studies over a span of two decades have documented low levels of engagement, particularly in the classroom. Examining several theoretical perspectives that attempt to explain engagement through comprehensive frameworks, this study evaluates the effect on engagement of school reform initiatives that are consistent with the theories. The study also investigates whether patterns exist in students' engagement, whether the patterns are consistent across grade levels, and whether class subject matter (mathematics or social studies) differentially affects engagement. The sample includes 3,669 students representing 143 social studies and mathematics classrooms in a nationally selected sample of 24 restructuring elementary, middle, and high schools. Because of the nature of the nested data (students nested within classrooms nested within schools), the analysis is conducted using hierarchical linear modeling in its three-level application (HLM3L). The reform initiatives, which are consistent with the theories, eliminate personal background effects. Together with classroom subject matter, they substantially influence engagement. The results are generally consistent across grade levels.

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