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Building School Successes Through Active School Engagement. Michael J. Furlong Grace St. Jean Jenne Simental Alicia Soliz. Contact Information. Michael Furlong Center for School-Based Youth Development Gevirtz Graduate School of Education Santa Barbara, CA 93106

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Building school successes through active school engagement l.jpg

Building School Successes Through Active School Engagement

Michael J. Furlong

Grace St. Jean

Jenne Simental

Alicia Soliz

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Contact Information

Michael Furlong

Center for School-Based Youth Development

Gevirtz Graduate School of Education

Santa Barbara, CA 93106

[email protected]


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Teacher Support and the School Engagement of Latino Middle and High School Students at Risk of School Failure

  • Teachers exerted an important effect on school engagement, beyond the effect of parental support for Latino students  

    • Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, February 2004, 21, 47-67.


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Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students’ Motivation to Learn


  • For many students, the school experience is impersonal and irrelevant to their real-world struggles. Once students become disengaged from learning, they greatly increase their chances for dropping out, thus reducing their ability to find rewarding careers.


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CSP Journal Motivation to Learn

  • Volume 8

  • 2003

  • School Engagement Special Issue


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Purpose Motivation to Learn

  • Intention of developing a common terminology to more efficiently organize research and practice

  • Three distinct perspectives

    • psychological

    • educational

    • developmental

  • Four main contexts

    • Student

    • Peer

    • Classroom

    • School

  • Support efforts to promote positive student outcomes, increase psychosocial competence and efficacy, and promote life–long learning


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Student Needs Motivation to Learn

  • Attachments = fundamental human need(Baumeister & Leary, 1995)

  • Schools are an important setting for:

    • social attachments

    • developing positive social skills


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Benefits of School Engagement Motivation to Learn

  • Reduction of:

    • substance abuse

    • depression

    • antisocial behavior

    • dropping out

  • Positively linked to:

    • academic achievement

    • school safety

    • positive developmental outcomes


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Perspective on School Engagement Motivation to Learn

Maddox & Prinz Model (2002)

  • Psychological condition that acts as a buffer against life challenges

  • Focused on prevention of deviant behavior

    Finn’s Model (1989, 1992)

  • Two components:

    • Participation: day-to-day behaviors associated with the student’s role in school

    • Involvement: sense or feeling of involvement

  • Natural outcome of behavioral involvement in school activities


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History of School Engagement Motivation to Learn

  • Concern for student disengagement

  • A potential protective factor against dropping out

  • Three components:

    • Behavioral

    • Emotional

    • Cognitive


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Engagement Model Motivation to Learn


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Student Context Motivation to Learn


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Student Context Motivation to Learn

  • Behavioral

  • Affective

  • Cognitive


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Behavioral Component Motivation to Learn

  • 1st Level

    • Conformity to classroom and school rules

    • Being prepared

    • Paying attention

  • 2nd Level

    • Student initiative

    • Enthusiasm

    • Time spent on work

  • 3rd Level

    • Extracurricular activities

    • Social activities Finn and Rock (1997)


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Affective Component Motivation to Learn

  • Level of emotional response

  • Research discusses affective belonging in relation to schools, peers, and teachers

  • Related to student’s feelings of self-efficacy


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Cognitive Component Motivation to Learn

  • Level of thinking or evaluating student relation to school

    • Developing beliefs

    • Assessing

    • Appraisals

    • Perceptions of student/school connections

  • Linked to:

    • Goal orientation

    • Academic self-efficacy

    • Academic achievement


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Peer Context Motivation to Learn


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Peer Influence on Motivation to LearnAcademic Engagement

1. Social-emotional factors

2. Academic motivation and success

3. Peer groups and social networks


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Socio-emotional Factors Motivation to Learn

  • Peer acceptance emotional well-being level of student interest (Wentzel, 1991)

  • distress = student’s interest in school.

  • distress = anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and low levels of well-being.


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Academic Motivation and Success Motivation to Learn

  • Perceived support and perceptions of peer academic values indirectly influences motivation.

  • Peer acceptance  Pursuit of academic and prosocial goals

  • Prosocial goals are a more potent predictor of peer acceptance than is the pursuit of peer-related social goals

  • Peer academic values are often less of a predictor of school belonging, and a stronger predictor of motivation (Goodenow & Grady, 1993).


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Peer Groups and Social Networks Motivation to Learn

  • Having close friendships GPA (Wentzel & Caldwell, 1997).

  • Social competence to socially responsible behavior (Wentzel, 1991).


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Peer Groups and Social Networks cont. Motivation to Learn

Sociometric scales are used to separate students into groups:

a. popular- those students liked by most peers and teachers,

• perceived as good students by their peers, often have higher GPAs

b. neglected- those students often ignored by peers and


• higher levels of school motivation, perceived by teachers to be more independent, less impulsive, demonstrate more appropriate classroom behavior, preferred more by teachers

• not nominated as “good students’ by peers


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Peer Groups and Social Networks cont. Motivation to Learn

c. rejected—those students actively disliked by most peers

• preferred less by teachers,perceived by classmates as not being good students

• aggressive and non-aggressive types: the aggressive rejected students are more rejected by peers

d. controversial—those students liked and disliked by peers

• less liked by teachers (Wentzel &Aher, 1995).


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Peer Groups and Social Networks cont. Motivation to Learn

  • Peer networks = Victimization by bullies

  • Supportive social network = protective factor (Pellegrini & Bartini, 2000)



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Classroom Influence Motivation to Learn


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The Classroom Context Motivation to Learn

  • Classroom as a community

  • Teacher–student relationships

  • Mutual respect

  • Cooperative learning


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Classroom as a Community Motivation to Learn

  • Student’s perception that she or he is a member of a positive learning environment.

  • Linked to experiencing enjoyment of class, liking for school, and task orientation.

  • Factors that can increase students’ sense of being part of a positive learning community

    • supportive student–teacher relationship

    • mutual respect within the classroom

    • cooperative learning


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Teacher–Student Relationships Motivation to Learn

  • Students’ perceptions of their teachers as supportive is associated with:

    • Decreases in disruptive behavior

    • Increase in student-perceived successful interactions with their teachers

    • Increase in social efficacy with teachers & peers

    • Positive student affect when in school

    • Predicted interest in classes, pursuit of goals, & adherence to classroom rules and norms

    • Feelings of student belonging


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Mutual Respect Motivation to Learn

  • When teachers promote and encourage students to respect each other in a fashion that brings about affirmation of ideas without insult.

  • The classroom is more likely to have a positive learning environment in which students feel as though they are a welcomed member.


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Cooperative Learning Motivation to Learn

“An approach to academic instruction in which children work together to help one another learn and have opportunities to experience and practice such prosocial values as fairness, helpfulness, responsibility, and considerateness.”

Watson, Solomon, Battistich, Schaps, and Soloman, (1989)


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Importance of Motivation to LearnCooperative Learning

  • A need for schools to de–emphasize current practices of individualization and competition among students. (Osterman, 2000)

  • Students who perceive an emphasis on competition are more likely to:

    • Feel self–conscious in academic situations

    • Experiences anxiety

    • Decrease quality of academic performance


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Classrooms within Schools Motivation to Learn

  • Classroom functioning is at the core of student’s academic engagement.

  • Schools, of course, consist of classrooms, but schools as entities are much more than the sum of all the classes.


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School Context Motivation to Learn


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School Context Motivation to Learn

  • School Climate

    • Physical Environment

    • Regulatory Environment


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Physical Environment Motivation to Learn

  • School size

    • Number

    • Physical layout

  • Racial-ethnic composition


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Physical Environment Motivation to Learn

  • School size

    • Larger school size offers more options to students in terms of classes, services, and social opportunities.

    • Smaller school size = higher attendance averages

  • Conclusion

    • Moderate-sized school enrollment = higher levels of school engagement.


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Physical Environment cont. Motivation to LearnRacial and Ethnic Composition

  • Minority groups may experience “stereotype threat”

    • situations in which an individual believes that his or her performance will be judged in ways consistent with prevailing stereotypes of their group or status.(Steele & Aronson, 1995)

  • Greater reports of engagement have been found among minority groups of students attending predominantly minority schools.

  • Other studies have found that no differences in engagement in racially integrated schools.


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Regulatory Environment Motivation to Learn

School Structure

  • Discipline

  • Rules

  • safety

  • Highly structured environments with high expectations for students’ behavior has been positively associated with school engagement.

  • Harsh and rigid disciplinary rules have been negatively associated with school engagement.

  • UCSB

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    Regulatory Environment cont. Motivation to Learn

    • Zero Tolerance Policies

      • Originally developed for military use

      • Each offence is punished with a suspension or expulsion regardless of degree of severity

    • Schools with zero tolerance policies have not been found to be safer or more secure than other schools

    • Rigid discipline policies send message that students are unwanted at school and result in expulsions and drop-outs.


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    Conclusion Motivation to Learn


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    A few Take Away Ideas Motivation to Learn

    • Can you live without school engagement?

      • Community involvement flows from school involvement?

    • If needed, what level is minimal? What is optimal?

    • How does school engagement occur?

      • How much is program?

      • How much is process?

    • What is the role of school psychologists?

    • How is it measured?

    • California Healthy Kids Survey—RYDM


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    Engagement Objective Motivation to Learn


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    Engagement Perspectives Motivation to Learn

    • What does it mean to be “engaged?”

      • Long-term commitment

      • Perceived social bond partnership

      • Social bond is valued

      • Mutual commitment (investment)

      • Within “relationship” context


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    Proposed Model Motivation to Learn

    • Participation

    • Attachment

    • Commitment

    • Membership

    • PaAaCaM






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    A possible strategy… Motivation to Learn

    • Identify those resilience principles that do not require a formalized program, but those that primarily emanate from the naturally occurring interactions and activities among and between educators and students each and every day.

    • Built upon the ideas of Ann Masten, who suggests that resilience as it is reflected in children’s developmental experiences is not a unusual experience.


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    A possible strategy… Motivation to Learn

    • Long-term protective influences of resilience factors can be “magical”

      • fewer negative life outcomes (e.g., substance use and emotional/behavioral disorders)

    • Reflect an “ordinary magic” in that they are accessible by all children.

      • Resilience and coping with life challenges happens everyday on every school campus in the USA.


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    Unleash Ordinary Magic Motivation to Learnin everyday actions

    • Such an approach is not a packaged program, but could include:

      • How to “watch” with purpose

      • How to “care” with ordinary actions

      • Explore these topics with students

      • ID everyday behaviors that build resilience

      • Technical resources to facilitate schools efforts

      • ID someone to oversee and coordinate responses for those youth who are struggling

      • Incorporate school discipline practices, based on key “turning points” identified in students’ educational patterns


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    Resilience Principle—Purposeful Supervision… Motivation to Learn


    • Having the awareness and knowledge of what signs/behaviors/markers suggests that the child may be struggling academically, emotionally, or socially.

    • Having the capacity to monitor and respond.

    • Positive school discipline approach—discipline as a vehicle to enhance child development (i.e., learning opportunities).


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    Care Motivation to Learn

    Resilience Principle—Nurturance, Love, Connections…

    • Attempt to convey that the child is valued

    • Enveloping child within a supporting network: homes, school, and community.

    • There needs to be at least a minimal level of membership, involvement, and engagement in the school as a community.


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    Thank You & Comments Motivation to Learn