A tool for profiling student engagement

iStock_000020536048XSmallA new tool to measure student engagement could help educators better target interventions for students at risk of academic failure, says a study in School Psychology Quarterly. The 33 item self-report survey, the Student Engagement Instrument (SEI), measures 5 subtypes of student engagement.

The measure could help educators determine if a student’s lack of engagement was cognitive or effective in nature. The 5 categories measured by the SEI are:

  • Teacher-student relationships (9 items)
  • Control and relevance of school work (9 items)
  • Peer support for learning (6 items)
  • Future aspirations and goals (5 items) and
  • Family support for learning (4 items)

“As the sub-types of engagement measured by the SEI relate to unique aspects of engagement, it could be possible for school psychologists to tailor interventions to address the areas of most concern,” the study says.

“For instance, if the sub-types related to family support were an area of concern, inquiry and intervention related to this context could be attempted. A student exhibiting lower levels of peer support might benefit from other interventions more related to interactions with peers.”

The SEI was developed based on student focus groups and an extensive review of the literature. It was originally tested with 9th graders. In this study, researchers validated its use with 2,416 middle school and high school students from Minnesota and South Carolina. The researchers concluded that SEI measured the same sub-types of engagement across the grades and genders in a similar manner and with similar precision.

A Study of the Factorial Invariance of the Student Engagement Instrument(SEI): Results From Middle and High School Students, by Joseph Betts et al., School Psychology Quarterly, 2010, Volume 25, Number 2, pps. 84-93.

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