The Impact of Student Engagement on Academic Achievement and Wellbeing

Staff development network

Dr Mark Dowley February 5th, 2024 · 2min read

The evidence

The evidence this week is a systematic review and meta-analysis from the Journal of Educational Psychology titled, Student Engagement and its Association with Academic Achievement and Subjective Wellbeing.

Despite its length (75 pages), it is a wonderful paper that clarifies some fuzzy definitions. Here is a brief summary.

Key points

Defining student engagement:

  • Student engagement has been broadly defined as ‘students’ active participation in academic and cocurricular or school-related activities, and commitment to educational goals and learning.’
    Student engagement is not a singular construct. Instead, it is a metaconstruct covering multiple dimensions (e.g., emotional (affective), behavioural and cognitive).
  • Affective engagement (or emotional engagement) is students’ affective (emotional) reactions to academic work, classmates, teachers, and school. [How they feel about it].
  • Behavioural engagement, in contrast, is concerned with students’ participation in school-related academic (incl. effort and persistence), social, and extracurricular activities. It includes students’ school conduct and compliance. [This is what we see].
  • Cognitive engagement represents students’ inner psychological quality and investment in learning that encompasses the use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies. [How they learn].
  • Student engagement was strongly associated with academic achievement (r = .33) and SWB (r = .35). [We knew this already but it’s nice to have hard evidence].
  • Academic achievement has the strongest correlation with behavioural engagement (r=.33) and also subjective wellbeing (r=.35). Students who achieve academically correlate with good behaviour. [Turns out kids who do well at school, behave better, then feel better – this links to a behaviour management principle in our book – success is the greatest motivator].
  • Engaged students are more likely to work hard and succeed in school. [Yes, engagement matters].

The full article is behind a paywall, the link is here.

What this means:

  • Engaged students are more likely to work hard and succeed in school, and life.
  • Calm and productive classrooms create engaged students.
  • Effective behaviour management tools and routines create calm and productive classrooms.
  • Clear instruction with checks for understanding increases student engagement.

In your next meeting, ask your team to share:

  1. The routines they use in their classrooms.
  2. The teaching techniques they use to check for understanding e.g. turn and talk, everybody writes or choral responses.
  3. When coaching teachers, see how often a teacher checks for understanding, Aim for at least once every two minutes.
  4. Finally, if you have any graduate teachers in your school or any that would benefit from some behaviour management strategies, I highly recommend the well-priced audio course from Ollie Lovell, link below.

Happy coaching,

Would you like to receive these newsletters to your inbox?
Subscribe to the Staff Development Network.

Do you want to be part of our Staff Development Network?

Sign up to receive our newsletter