Engaging High School Students in Learning: A Continuum of Support

Year: 2017

Author: McGregor, Glenda, Allen, Jeanne, Pendergrast, Donna, Ronksley-Pavia, Michelle, Thompson, Kate

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Student engagement, particularly in the middle years of schooling (Years 5-9), is a major challenge to educators in Australia and elsewhere. This presentation explores "The Student Engagement Continuum Model" which we have built from a research project conducted in one major Australian schooling jurisdiction. We contextualise our data within a range of learning theories and approaches to engaging young adolescents. As such, we provide a broad lens through which to view the needs of all students during this phase of learning, not just those who might be deemed to be 'at risk'. Our starting premises are twofold. First, as demonstrated in extant literature, all young people are potentially at risk of disengagement because of a myriad of personal factors shaping young adolescence (approximately 10-16 years old), as well as schooling pressures and transitions. Second, being at risk of schooling disengagement can be mitigated against via a spectrum of supportive measures that foster student engagement and schooling retention. Our model incorporates behavioural, emotional and cognitive dimensions of engagement on a continuum that will guide engagement for young adolescent learners. This model is the first of its kind in that it is based upon a data-based theorisation of a range of types of schooling disengagement. It incorporates targeted strategies that underpin a continuum of pedagogical, curricular and social support during the middle years of schooling. As such, we argue that it offers potential for significant innovation in the way we structure learning for young adolescents.