Effective intervention to increase school engagement (guest post by Jeroen Janssen)

This guest post by Jeroen Janssen was first published here.

How do you keep students engaged in education? This question was the focus of a new study by Roger Azevedo and colleagues. They developed the story tool, an intervention in which students use a story to learn strategies to monitor their engagement and learn to make concrete plans that support engagement. Roger Azevedo is known for his work on self-regulation, among other things. The intervention consisted of 10 weekly 1-hour lessons. Not surprisingly, this intervention used known self-regulation strategies. The effect of the intervention on school engagement was examined using a randomized controlled trial in 12 elementary schools in Portugal. The participating students were, on average, 10 years old. The results are promising and show that the intervention increases student engagement.


Abstract of the study:

Prior research has reported signs of low engagement in the early stages of schooling. The present study assessed the effectiveness of a school-based intervention that promotes cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement in elementary school children through a story tool. The study followed a cluster-randomized design with 259 fourth graders nested in 12 classes; the classes, not the individuals, were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. Both groups were assessed in four waves in two measures for each engagement dimension. Data were analyzed with a multilevel approach. Findings show that the intervention enhanced students’ cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement. Still, there is a delay before the intervention program exhibits a beneficial effect.

Moreover, gender discrepancies were found. Before the intervention, girls showed higher cognitive and emotional engagement, but boys exhibited higher emotional engagement after the intervention. In addition, current results indicate that the program benefited the boys more than the girls. Finally, there was no evidence that the engagement outcomes differed depending on the parent’s educational level. Findings provide valuable information for future research and educational practice.

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