Motivation and Engagement: A comparison of boarding and day students

Year: 2012

Author: Papworth, Brad, Martin, Andrew, Ginns ,Paul, Liem, Arief, Hawkes, Timothy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This presentation focuses on the effects of a residential education model (attending boarding school) on academic motivation and engagement, part of a larger Australian Research Council project examining the role of boarding school in students' academic and non-academic outcomes. Boarding school has been part of the educational landscape in Western contexts for several centuries. However, there has been surprisingly little research assessing the role of boarding school in students' outcomes; nor has there been research seeking to address gaps in our knowledge on the effects of boarding school on student motivation and engagement. This is the purpose of the proposed presentation.

Participants in the study comprised 2,079 high school from twelve non-government, comprehensive high schools across Australia. Just under one in three students were boarders and 71% were day students (non-boarders). Boarders and day students were situated in the same classrooms and schools. Measures ecompassed a variety of motivation and engagement scales. Academic motivation was assessed via the Motivation and Engagement Scale (MES; Martin, 2007) and comprised factors such as self-efficacy, valuing of school, mastery orientation, anxiety, and fear of failure. Measures of academic engagement included enjoyment of school, educational aspirations and class participation from Martin (2007). Other engagement measures included school absenteeism and homework completion. Academic buoyancy was assessed via the Academic Buoyancy Scale (ABS) developed by Martin and Marsh (2008). Approach to learning was assessed using items relating to cooperative and competitive learning strategies from the OECD's (2003) PISA study and personal best goals from Liem, Ginns and Martin (2012). Numerous covariates were included in order to control for personality, gender, age, ability, and language background.

The study aimed to identify the effects of the residential experience on student motivation and engagement and , in particular, the extent to which these differed across boarding and day students. The overarching pattern of findings reflected general parity in motivation and engagement between boarding and day students, after controlling for personality, gender, age, ability, and language background. On the handful of motivation and engagement factors where significant differences existed, it apears that findings for boarders are more positive. The findings of this study hold implications for researchers studying issues relevant to boarding school – and, potentially, residential education systems more widely. Findings are also relevant to practitioners seeking to enhance the educational outcomes of students and for parents making decisions about schooling and schooling types.