First Advisor

Christine Chaille

Date of Publication

Fall 12-9-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Motivation in education -- Statistics -- Use, Engagement (Philosophy) -- Fourth grade (Education) -- Elementary school teachers -- Attitudes, Teacher-student relationships



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 180 pages)


Since its introduction in the 1980's, student engagement has been a popular topic in educational research. In the beginning, engagement was thought of as a simple construct; however, it is now believed that student engagement involves four separate, but equally important components (Appleton, 2012; Christenson, Reschly, Appleton, Berman, Spanjers, & Varro, 2008). The components of academic, behavioral, affective and cognitive engagement are each vital to the ongoing educational success of students, and ideally, these would remain high throughout all of the years that students are in school. Unfortunately, research shows that most students' engagement levels continuously decrease from elementary school until high school graduation (or dropout), with the biggest drops occurring when students transition to middle school and high school (Alexander, Entwisle, & Horsey, 1997; Dunleavy & Milton, 2008; Finn, Pannozzo, & Voelkl, 1995; Lopez, 2011; Roeser, Strobel, & Quihuis, 2002; Skinner et al., 2009). Much of the research is currently being done at the middle and high school level to try and re-engage students in their learning (Appleton, 2012; Appleton, Christenson, Kim & Reschley, 2006; Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). This research study, however, looked at the implications of engagement data collection with fourth grade students.

This mixed-methods study had two main goals. The first goal of the study was to determine the benefits of providing teachers with a systematic approach to collecting and following data on students' affective and cognitive engagement levels over time. The second goal of the study was to begin to explore interventions that appeared to increase fourth grade students' affective and cognitive engagement levels.

The data analysis showed that students consistently reported lower engagement scores in the areas of teacher and peer relationships at school. It was also found that teachers did not report using student engagement data to make whole class interventions, but teachers did report the desire to track individual student's engagement scores in order to implement individualized interventions, when needed. Three additional findings, as well as suggestions for future research, are also presented.

In the end, the study concludes with a more broad view on how this research can be used to impact the field of education. The ideas of teacher awareness, power in schools, and the need to create safe and caring classrooms that include students in the decision making process are all discussed as important components needed to engage students. Final suggestions have also been given for both teachers and administrators on how best to increase student engagement in the school or school district where they are working.


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