24 SES 13 A, Teaching Profesional Development Part 3
Paper Session continued from 24 SES 08 A
The concept of student engagement is attracting increasing attention in research to explain learning and academic success of students. Most of the studies explore school engagement globally, i.e. at the level of the school as a whole, while studies taking individual subjects into account are still rare (Fredricks, Blumenfeld & Paris, 2004; Skinner, Furrer, Marchand et al., 2008). Furthermore, research which investigates subject-specific engagement focuses mainly on engagement in mathematics and science (Wang, Fredricks, Ye et al., 2016). Referring to these studies, subject-specific engagement can be defined as multifaceted construct consisting of a cognitive, emotional and behavioral component (Wang, Fredricks, Ye et al., 2016). Cognitively engaged students self-regulate their learning, use deep-learning strategies, and develop adequate cognitive strategies to solve complex problems. Emotionally engaged students have a positive attitude towards learning and school subjects. Students with a high level of behavioral engagement participate actively in academic and class-based activities and show less deviant behaviour (Fredricks, Blumenfeld & Paris, 2004).
Previous research has shown that interests and goals influence learning and performance. Until now, it is unclear how they are related to subject-specific engagement. Drawing from the social-cognitive career theory (SCTT, Lent, 2005), it can be assumed that goals relevant for engagement might be performance-oriented and different for different subjects (e.g., the goal to reach grade A in maths, and grade C in language), but also career-oriented (e.g., the goal to obtain a certain school certificate (e.g. Lent, 2005, Schiefele, 2009).
This issue is of particular relevance because subject-specific learning and performance differs by gender. On the one hand, the subject mathematics is considered male-typed, while language subjects are considered female-typed (e.g., Van de gaer, Pustjens, Van Damme & De Munter, 2009; Lazarides & Ittel, 2017). On the other hand, there are hints, that interests and goals are of different importance for learning and performance in boys and girls: For example, in a study by Freudenthaler, Spinath and Neubauer (2008), intrinsic motivation (like interests) for school performance was more significant in boys than in girls; MacMahon and Patton (1997) showed in a qualitative study that boys associate school achievement more strongly with career planning than girls, whereas girls were more focused on grades.
In order to gain further insights into subject- and gender-specific engagement, we investigate the extent to which subject-specific interests and performance goals, as well as career goals affect engagement in maths and in German (first language). In the analysis we integrate a gender comparison. To our knowledge, studies about engagement in language subjects do not exist. Also, we are not aware of any research on subject-specific engagement of boys and girls.
Deriving from the above, we expect for both subjects
that interests, performance goals and career goals affect subject-specific engagement positively(H1), and that effects of interests, performance goals and career goals depend on gender (H2), such as that
(H2a) the influence of interests on engagement is stronger for boys than for girls
(H2b) the influence of performance goals on engagement is stronger for girls than for boys, and
(H2c) the influence of career goals on engagement is stronger for boys than for girls.
To test our hypotheses we rely on cross-sectional data from a sample of 1469 students (844 female) in their first year of upper secondary school in Switzerland. Engagement in maths and in German was measured each by six (emotional, behavioural) respectively five (cognitive) items taken from the “Math and Science Engagement Scales” (Wang et. al, 2016). Subject-specific interests were assessed by three items each on a five-point Likert scale (Baumert et al., 1997). To measure performance goals, students indicated, which grade they intended to achieve in maths and in German in the next school report. Career goals were measured by four items on a five-point Likert scale, which concerned the graduation of upper secondary school. To test our hypotheses, we calculated separate Generalized Linear Models for the two subjects, including cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement as dependent variable, and gender, interests and goals (model 1: performance goals, model 2: career goals) as predictors. Gender-specific differences were analyzed by introducing interaction terms in the models.
Descriptive analyses confirmed the male respectively female character of both subjects - boys were more engaged in mathematics, were more interested in this subject and had higher performance goals than girls, the reverse was true for the subject German. For mathematics, H1 was confirmed partially: Interests and career goals each contributed to the ex-planation of engagement dimensions, whereby interests had stronger effects than career goals. Interestingly, performance goals were not related to engagement. This could point out, that students may explain the achievement of high grades in mathematics less with engagement but with talent. For German, H1 was confirmed completely. With regard to H2, in mathematics, first results indicate only one gender-specific interaction effect: career goals seem to have a significantly greater impact on cognitive engagement for boys than for girls - indicating that boys involve in mathematics more strongly than girls, because they want to graduate from school successfully (H2c). The lack of other gender-specific interaction effects could support previous results indicating that differences between girls and boys in mathematics are less pronounced than in other subjects (Marks, 2008). For German, results showed, that interests influence the subject-specific engagement more for boys compared to girls (H2a). Further effects (H2b, H2c) were inconsistent, depending on the dimension of engagement considered. In general, first results points out that it is fruitful to analyze engagement at a subject-specific level and separately for boys and girls. With regard to intervention activities, results suggest that subject-specific engagement can be encouraged, if the relevance of the subject (maths) for the educational career is emphasized.
Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74 (1), 59-109. Freudenthaler, H. H., Spinath, B., & Neubauer, A. C. (2008). Predicting school achievement in boys and girls. European journal of personality, 22(3), 231-245. Hirschi, A. (2008). Kognitive Laufbahntheorien und ihre Anwendung in der beruflichen Beratung. In: D. Länge & A. Hirschi (Hrsg.), Berufliche Übergänge. Psychologische Grundlagen der Berufs-, Studien- und Laufbahnberatung (9-34). Wien: LIT Verlag. Lazarides, R., & Ittel, A. (2017). Entwicklung motivationaler Orientierungen in den MINT-Bereichen im mittleren Jugendalter. In B. Kracke & P. Noack (Hrsg.), Handbuch Erziehungs- und Entwicklungspsychologie, Springer Reference Psychologie (1-19). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. Lent, R. W. (2005). A social cognitive view of career development and counseling. In: D. S. Brown & W. R. Lent (Hrsg.), Career development and counseling. Putting theory and reserach to work (101-127). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Marks, G. N. (2008). Accounting for the gender gaps in student performance in reading and mathematics: evidence from 31 countries. Oxford Review of Education, 34(1), 89-109. McMahon, M., & Patton, W. (1997). Gender differences in children and adolescents' perceptions of influences on their career development. The School Counselor, 44(5), 368-376. Patton, W., Batrum, D. A., & Creed, P.A. (2004). Gender differences for optimism, self-esteem, expectations and goals in predicting career planning and exploration in adolescents. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance 4(3), 193-209. Schiefele, U., & Wild, K.-P. (Hrsg.) (2000). Interesse und Lernmotivation. Untersuchungen zu Entwicklung, Förderung und Wirkung. Münster: Waxmann. Skinner, E., Furrer, C., Marchand, G., & Kindermann, T. (2008). Engagement and disaffection in the classroom: Part of a larger motivational dynamic? Journal of Educational Psychology, 100 (4), 765-781. Van de gaer, E., Pustjens, H., Van Damme, J., & De Munter, A. (2009). School Engagement and Language Achievement: A Longitudinal Study of GenderDifferences across Secondary School. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 55 (4), 373-405. Wang, M. T. & Holcombe, R. (2010). Adolescents' perceptions of school environment, engagement, and academic achievement in middle school. American Educational Research Journal, 47 (3), 633-662. Wang, M. T., Fredricks, J., Ye, F., Hofkens, T., & Schall, J. (2016). The math and science engagement scale: Development, validation, and psychometric properties. Learning and Instruction, 43, 16-26.
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