Quantifying student engagement in classroom learning: Student learning capabilities and the expectations of their learning

Year: 2009

Author: Cavanagh, Robert, Kennish, Penelope

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper reports on a quantitative investigation of secondary school student engagement in classroom learning. The empirical investigation was informed by a theoretical model in which student engagement in classroom learning was viewed as a function of student capability for learning and the expectations placed on their learning. The investigation was part of the second phase in a large scale ARC Linkage project. The first phase focussed on epistemological issues in defining student engagement in classroom learning. The second phase used interviews to collect qualitative and quantitative data from a representative sample of Western Australian secondary school students. The third phase currently underway is applying a self-report rating scale instrument to collect data from a large number of students to enable analysis of interactions between engagement variables.

In Phase Two, a researcher-completed rating scale instrument was developed using operational definitions of constructs identified in Phase One. The instrument was administered by two researchers to rate 195 secondary students on aspects of their engagement in classroom learning. Data on five aspects of student capability for learning and six aspects of expectations of student learning were tested separately against the Rasch Rating Scale Model. For this study, data on these two constructs were analysed separately. This was notwithstanding that a conjoint analysis was possible and that this procedure has been used to investigate the engagement of particular groups of students (e.g. LOTE students). Testing data-to-model fit using RUMM20220 estimated or generated summary test-of-fit statistics, category probability curves/threshold locations, individual item fit statistics, item characteristic curves/differential item functioning, person-item threshold distributions, and Varimax location loadings from factor analysis of residuals.

The rationales for the RUMM2020 estimates are explained and the results are used to confirm the compliance of data with the requirements for objective measurement that underpin the Rasch Rating Scale Model. In this way, the resulting measures are considered to manifest the latent trait of student engagement in classroom learning.

Key Phrase Assessment, Measurement and Evaluation