Year: 2019

Author: Bartle, Toby, Boon, Helen, Sarnyai, Zoltan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background and Scope: Disengaged students are at increased risk of experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, poorer physical and mental health outcomes, lower quality of life and greater risk-taking behaviors. Increasing both intrinsic motivation and executive function levels, an umbrella term for working memory, cognitive flexibility and impulse control, promotes student engagement and well-being, however the underlying mechanisms are unclear.

Significance and Aims: This research investigates the biological, psychological and sociocultural mechanisms underpinning student engagement, and as corollaries, well-being and achievement within a primary school context. The aim is to inform framework development to allow primary school teachers to promote engagement more effectively in the classroom.

Design: Simple random sampling will generate a sample of year 4 and 6 students who will complete the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory, Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale and Academic Self-Regulation Questionnaire. Cortisol levels, a hormone that inhibits the bodies stress response systems, will provide a measure of stress and digital cognitive measures will assess executing functioning. Teachers will complete the strengths and difficulties questionnaire. Analysis will occur using structural equation modelling to determine the nature and direction of the relationship between latent variables.

Findings: Results will inform systemic approaches to educational change and promote student engagement; well-being and achievement.

Implications: Students with well-developed, stable patterns of engagement in primary school respond successfully to challenges in high school, maintain high levels of well-being and achieve academic success. Therefore, understanding how to promoting engagement more effectively in younger years will have positive implications for students later in life.