Free Essay

Work Habits of Teenagers

In: Other Topics

Submitted By pogiako08
Words 19879
Pages 80
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement:
An Exploratory Analysis
Theresa M. Akey, Ph.D.
January 2006 This paper was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Principal funding for First Things First comes from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Additional support to supplement the core project comes from the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Ewing Marion
Kauffman Foundation. A grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts for MDRC’s research methodology initiatives was an important source of funding for the First Things First Classroom Observation Study.
Dissemination of MDRC publications is supported by the following funders that help finance MDRC’s public policy outreach and expanding efforts to communicate the results and implications of our work to policymakers, practitioners, and others: Alcoa Foundation, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, The
Atlantic Philanthropies, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Open Society Institute, and The Starr
Foundation. In addition, earnings from the MDRC Endowment help sustain our dissemination efforts.
Contributors to the MDRC Endowment include Alcoa Foundation, The Ambrose Monell Foundation,
Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation,
Ford Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The Grable Foundation, The Lizabeth and Frank
Newman Charitable Foundation, The New York Times Company Foundation, Jan Nicholson, Paul H.
O’Neill Charitable Foundation, John S. Reed, The Sandler Family Supporting Foundation, and The
Stupski Family Fund, as well as other individual contributors.
The findings and conclusions in this report do not necessarily represent the official positions or policies of the funders.
For information about MDRC and copies of our publications, see our Web site: www.mdrc.org.
Copyright © 2006 by MDRC. All rights reserved. iii
Overview
What are the key factors that promote academic success among students whose demographic characteristics and school circumstances place them at high risk of failure? This paper provides highly suggestive, although not conclusive, answers to this question. Through path analysis modeling techniques applied to data collected in MDRC’s evaluation of the First
Things First school reform initiative in a large urban school district, the paper explores the influence of two psychological variables — student engagement and perceived academic competence — on achievement in reading and mathematics.
This study’s findings may have important implications for understanding how students learn in the classroom. Consonant with previous research, they indicate that both engagement in school and students’ perception of their own academic competence influence achievement in mathematics for high school students. But the study departs from earlier work in suggesting that perceived academic competence may be more influential than engagement in boosting achievement in both mathematics and reading. Indeed, analyses indicate that perceived competence had a stronger influence on subsequent engagement than engagement had on students’ perceptions of themselves as competent learners.
The findings also make clear that supportive teachers and clear and high expectations about behavior are key to the development of both student engagement and perceived competence. This study suggests that the earlier schools and teachers begin to build students’ confidence in their ability to do well, the better off students will be. Because students’ perceptions of their capacity for success are key to their engagement in school and learning, schools should be designed to enhance students’ feelings of accomplishment. Teachers whom students see as supportive and who set clear expectations about behavior help create an atmosphere in which students feel in control and confident about their ability to succeed in future educational endeavors. v
Contents
Overview iii
List of Tables and Figures vii
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Contextual and Psychological Predictors of Student Learning and Success:
A Review of the Literature 3
Research Methods and Design 6
Results 16
Study Limitations 29
Implications for Research and Practice 31
Appendix: Survey Items Used to Create Student Attitudes and Behavior Scales and School Context Scales 33
References 37 vii
List of Tables and Figures
Table
1 Constructs Measured, Data Sources, and Timeline for Data Collection 8
2 Means and Standard Deviations of All Analysis Variables 17
3 Influence of Student Attitudes and Behavior on Mathematics Achievement 18
4 Influence of Student Attitudes and Behavior on Reading Achievement 20
5 Influence of School Context on Student Engagement 23
6 Influence of School Context on Perceived Academic Competence 25
7 Cross-Lagged Influence of Student Engagement and Perceived
Academic Competence 27
8 Cross-Lagged Influence of Student Engagement, Perceived
Academic Competence, and School Context 28
Figure
1 Theoretical Model 2
2 Influence of Student Attitudes and Behavior on Student Academic Achievement 12
3a Lagged Model of Influence of School Context on Student Engagement and Perceived Academic Competence 13
3b Concurrent Model of Influence of School Context on Student Engagement and Perceived Academic Competence 13
4 Cross-Lagged Model of Relationship Between Student Engagement and Perceived Academic Competence 14
5 Cross-Lagged Model of Relationship Between Student Engagement and Teacher Support 15 ix
Acknowledgments
Thank you to Howard S. Bloom, Janet Quint, and Alison Rebeck Black from MDRC for their oversight and feedback in shaping this paper into its current form and for creating a storyline that informs both practice and policy.
Thank you also to MDRC’s Fred C. Dolittle, James J. Kemple, and Corinne Herlihy, who also provided valuable insight as we identified the best strategies for analyzing, presenting, and discussing the findings of this paper.
Special thanks to Marla Thompson for her creation of new tables and charts and for pulling together the text and figures, to Edmond Wong and Patt Pontevolpe for their assistance with the exhibits, to Margaret Bald for her thoughtful editing of the final paper, and to Stephanie
Cowell for preparing it for publication. 1
Introduction
Much research in recent years has focused on identifying the key factors that promote academic success among students whose demographic characteristics and school circumstances place them at high risk of failure. In large part, this research has addressed the characteristics of individual students and school settings that are optimal for success. Literature largely supports the positive role that students’ attitudes and behavior play in improved academic achievement. Several studies have found that engagement in school and perceived academic competence (that is, positive feelings about one’s ability to be successful academically) strongly predict improved reading and mathematics achievement. Similarly, literature supports the positive influence of factors in the school context — for example, the presence of high-quality, engaging instructional activities and supportive adult relationships — in improving students’ academic outcomes.
This paper examines the relationships among these three constructs — school context, student attitudes and behavior, and achievement — using longitudinal data from a large-scale high school reform effort. The analysis is exploratory in nature, in that it tests one particular hypothesis about the relationships among these constructs. Other hypotheses may be equally plausible, but this paper considers the relationships shown in Figure 1, which presents the theoretical model underlying the effort.
Student attitudes and behavior stand at the center of the figure and the theory that underlies it. As the figure indicates, it is hypothesized that student attitudes and behavior (1) contribute to mathematics and reading achievement among high school students, and (2) result from key factors in the school context: support from teachers; clear, high, and consistent expectations; and high-quality instruction. That is, the positive influence of school context on improved achievement is mediated by students’ attitudes about themselves as learners and by behavior that is correlated with academic success.
The figure suggests two major research questions that frame the analyses in later sections:
1. What is the influence of the two psychological variables — engagement in school and perceived academic competence — on student achievement in reading and mathematics?
2. If these psychological variables do have a positive influence on achievement, which elements of the school context support the development of higher levels of student engagement and perceived academic competence? 2
In addition, the research addresses two secondary questions:
3. What is the directionality of the relationship between perceived academic competence and student engagement — that is, does perceived academic competence influence engagement or vice versa?
4. What is the directionality of the relationships between variables in school context and the psychological variables?
In Figure 1, the variables of paramount interest to the study are enclosed in solid-line boxes. As the figure indicates, students’ background characteristics and their levels of prior achievement influence their subsequent achievement, attitudes and behavior, and perceptions of school context. While the analysis takes these factors into account, it does not focus on them; in the figures shown in this paper, dotted-line boxes surround these two sets of variables.
The next section offers a brief overview of the relevant literature on student attitudes and behavior and their relationship to academic achievement and on elements of school context
School Context
ƒ Supportive relationships with teachers
ƒ Clear, high, and consistent behavioral and academic expectations
ƒ High-quality instruction and pedagogy
Student Attitudes and
Behavior
ƒ Engagement
ƒ Perceived academic competence Student
Achievement
ƒ Math
ƒ Reading
Student Background and Previous Achievement
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Figure 1 Theoretical Model 3 that are associated with student success. This is followed by an overview of the research design: the sample of students followed in the study, the measures and their sources, and the analytical model. The study’s findings are presented, and the paper concludes by discussing the practical implications of these findings for educators and policymakers.
Contextual and Psychological Predictors of Student Learning and
Success: A Review of the Literature
There is substantial evidence that engagement in school is important in promoting student success and learning and that a number of factors in the school environment foster high levels of engagement. Research also suggests that the influence of the educational context on engagement is partially mediated by psychological beliefs about competence and control. The next sections briefly summarize the literature relevant to these points.
Engagement and Learning
Student engagement can be defined as the level of participation and intrinsic interest that a student shows in school.
1
Engagement in schoolwork involves both behaviors (such as persistence, effort, attention) and attitudes (such as motivation, positive learning values, enthusiasm, interest, pride in success).
2
Thus, engaged students seek out activities, inside and outside the classroom, that lead to success or learning. They also display curiosity, a desire to know more, and positive emotional responses to learning and school.
3

Extensive evidence exists that engagement and motivation are critical elements in student success and learning. Researchers agree that engaged students learn more, retain more, and enjoy learning activities more than students who are not engaged.
4
Studies have shown a direct link between levels of engagement and achievement in reading and mathematics.
5
Many school-level studies have identified higher levels of student engagement as important predictors of scores on standardized achievement tests, classroom learning and grades, and student persistence.
6

1
Newmann (1992).
2
Connell and Wellborn (1991); Johnson, Crosnoe, and Elder (2001); Newmann (1992); Skinner and Belmont (1993); Smerdon (1999); Turner, Thorpe, and Meyer (1998).
3
Newmann (1992).
4
Dowson and McInerney (2001); Hancock and Betts (2002); Lumsden (1994).
5
Kirsch et al. (2002).
6
National Research Council (2000). As important as student engagement has been found to be in supporting and leading to learning, a substantial number of high school students, particularly those in urban school systems with large numbers of poor, minority students, are disengaged from school. This jeopardizes their ability to learn and advance through the educational system. Some studies have found that 40 to 60 percent of high school students are chronically disengaged, as exhibited by inattentiveness, lack of effort, inability or unwill-
(continued) 4
Perceived Competence and Control as Mediators of the Relationship
Between School Context and Student Engagement
A primary psychological mediator of the relationship between student engagement and educational context is the degree to which students feel competent and confident of their ability to be successful in completing educational tasks. Students who are convinced that they lack the ability to succeed or control the outcome of their educational experience will not make an effort to engage or excel in school-related work.
7
To become successful, students need to know what it takes to succeed and believe they can succeed, given what they know. Thus, a student who doesn’t think she can complete assigned homework successfully, or who doesn’t understand what to do, is unlikely to attempt the assignment. Similarly, a student who doesn’t think he will be able to pass the courses needed to graduate is unlikely to do much work and may end up cutting class or even dropping out.
Students’ beliefs about their competence and their expectations for success in school have been directly linked to their levels of engagement, as well as to emotional states that promote or interfere with their ability to be academically successful. For example, students who believe they are academically incompetent tend to be more anxious in the classroom and more fearful of revealing their ignorance.
8
They fear that educational interactions will result in embarrassment and humiliation, and this, in turn, inhibits them from behaving in ways that might help them, such as asking questions when they are confused or engaging in trial-and-error problemsolving.
9
In addition, such students are more likely to avoid putting much effort into a task so that they can offer a plausible alternative to low ability or lack of knowledge as an explanation for failure — for example, “I could have done it if I tried, but I didn’t feel like doing it.”
10

Factors in the School Context that Support Student Success
Research suggests that variables in the educational context are important in supporting and sustaining positive academic self-perceptions and engagement in school.
11
This research base is mostly qualitative, correlational, or quasi-experimental and falls short of the random assignment design that some researchers believe is necessary to draw causal conclusions. Never- ingness to compete educational tasks and assignments, and self-reported levels of boredom. This figure takes into account only students who are still in school, not those who have dropped out (Marks, 2000; Sedlak,
Wheeler, Pullin, and Cusick, 1986; Steinberg, 1996). The proportion of low-income, minority, urban students who report being disengaged is even higher (National Research Council, 2003).
7
Atkinson (1964); Eccles et al. (1983); Skinner, Wellborn, and Connell (1990); Skinner, ZimmerGembeck, and Connell (1998).
8
Abu-Hilal (2000); Bandalos, Yates, and Thorndike-Christ (1995); Harter (1992); Hembree (1988).
9
Newman and Goldin (1990); Ryan and Pintrich (1997).
10
Covington, Spratt, and Omelich (1980).
11
National Research Council (2003). 5 theless, the evidence is consistent enough to suggest that school context plays an important role in student learning and achievement through its relationship with student engagement.
Relationships between students and teachers and the climate in the classroom are positively associated with levels of student engagement and academic competence. Similarly, meaningful and challenging learning environments have been linked to both engagement and perceived competence. When students are authentically engaged in meaningful, quality work, the likelihood increases that they will learn something new and remember what they learned.
12

Three kinds of contextual factors merit special attention:
Sense of Belonging and Caring
Although learning involves individual cognitive and emotional processes, student motivation is also significantly influenced by a supportive network of relationships. The likelihood that students will be motivated and engaged in school is increased to the extent that they perceive their teachers, family, and friends as supportive. Schools that engage students promote a sense of belonging by personalizing instruction and creating a supportive, caring social environment where adults show an interest in students’ lives in and out of school.
13
The research on belonging in educational contexts is relatively new, and the direction of causality has not been definitively established.
14
Nevertheless, many correlational and nonexperimental studies have shown that students who report caring and supportive interpersonal relationships in school have more positive academic attitudes and values and are more satisfied with school.
15
Such students also are more likely to attend school, learn more,
16
and report that they are more engaged in academic work.
17

Clear, High, and Consistent Expectations
High, clear, and consistent expectations also support students’ self-confidence, their belief that their efforts will lead to success, and their engagement in school.
18
A substantial body of evidence demonstrates that schools where students achieve high levels of performance tend to set high expectations and standards.
19
To motivate students, however, standards and expecta- 12
Hancock and Betts (2002); Willms (2002).
13
National Research Council (2003).
14
National Research Council (2003).
15
Baker (1999); Battistich, Solomon, Kim, Watson, and Schaps (1995); Ryan and Deci (2000); Shouse
(1996); Skinner and Belmont (1993); Wasley et al. (2000); Yowell (1999).
16
Bryk and Driscoll (1988); Bryk, Lee, and Holland (1993).
17
Connell and Wellborn (1991).
18
Eccles et al. (1983); Gambone, Klem, Summers, and Akey (2004); Wigfield and Harold (1992).
19
Baker, Terry, Bridger, and Winsor (1997); Evans (1997); Lambert and McCombs (1998); Lee, Bryk, and Smith (1993); Lee and Smith (1999); Phillips (1997). 6 tions must be clear and genuinely achievable.
20
Students are most likely to be academically engaged when goals are set at an appropriate level — that is, when they both challenge students and allow them to experience a sense of competence and accomplishment.
Meaningful and Challenging Educational Environments
Research on learning shows that students become cognitively engaged when teachers ask them to wrestle with new concepts, explain their reasoning, defend their conclusions, or explore alternative strategies and solutions.
21
Students enjoy learning more and are more likely to participate in school tasks when their teachers employ active pedagogical strategies. Collaboration among peers — students working together in pairs or small groups to help one another learn — also has been associated with increased engagement and learning.
22
When students can put their heads together rather than work in isolation, they are more receptive to challenging assignments.
23

Research indicates that over the long term, students are more likely to be engaged in the classroom when they are asked to conduct experiments, participate in debates and role-playing, create models, and complete projects.
24
Evidence also suggests that when classroom instruction draws on students’ preexisting knowledge, culture, and real-world experiences, it becomes more meaningful. 25 Students enjoy learning more and learn better when what they are studying is of personal interest and relates to their lives.
26

Research Methods and Design
This section describes the study’s design. It discusses the sample and data and the analytic methods and models used to address the research questions.
The Research Sample
This analysis draws on student surveys and administrative records data collected in
MDRC’s evaluation of the First Things First school reform initiative in a large urban school district during the 2001-2002, 2002-2003, and 2003-2004 school years.
27
Students in the analy- 20
Gambone et al. (2004); Lee and Smith (1999); Phillips (1997).
21
National Research Council (1999).
22
Davidson (1999); Johnson and Johnson (1985); Mitchell (1993).
23
Cohen (1994).
24
Davidson (1999); Guthrie and Wigfield (2000); Mitchell (1993).
25
McLaughlin and Talbert (1993).
26
Meece (1991).
27
First Things First is a schoolwide reform initiative that has been implemented in multiple sites across the
United States, including Kansas City (Kansas), Houston, St. Louis, and rural Mississippi. The initiative is based on structural changes in staffing and teaming; small learning communities; changes in leadership and
(continued) 7 sis sample attended three high schools in this district. Two of the schools had implemented First
Things First for two years and one for three years when data collection ended; at all three schools, a year-long planning period preceded program implementation.
The sample consisted of 449 students for whom academic achievement measures were available for all three years of the study. Survey data for all students were available only for the second and third years. Because the sample includes only students who remained in school throughout the study period, sample members are not fully representative of all high school students in the district, which is marked by high dropout rates.
Sixty-four percent of the students were tenth-graders and 36 percent were eleventhgraders in the last year of the study. (Seniors were excluded from the analysis because the district did not administer reading and mathematics tests to twelfth-graders.) Males comprised half the sample. Sixty-seven percent of the students were Hispanic, 24 percent African-American, 4 percent white, and 5 percent other. Approximately 85 percent of the students received free or reduced-price lunch (an indicator of low socioeconomic status), 10 percent participated in special education programs, and 23 percent were in English for Speakers of Other Languages
(ESOL) programs.
Measures and Data Sources
As summarized in Table 1, the analysis used data from surveys and administrative records to examine four broad sets of variables. Three of these categories of variables — academic achievement, student attitudes and behavior, and school context — correspond to the key constructs of interest in Figure 1. In the fourth category are student demographic characteristics, which were also taken into account in the analyses.
Administrative records contain test score data that are used in two ways: Year 1 test scores offer measures of prior reading and mathematics achievement, while Year 3 test scores provide information on subsequent achievement in these subjects. Administrative records also yield data on student background characteristics, as measured during Year 3. (Two of the five background characteristics measured — gender and race/ethnicity — represent invariant characteristics; low socioeconomic status, as measured by receipt of free- or reduced-price lunch, is also likely to have remained stable over time.) Survey data from both Year 2 and Year 3 provided measures of students’ perceptions of the school context and their degree of engagement in school and perceived academic competence. These data are described in greater detail in Table 1. professional development; aligned, standards-based curriculum and assessment; and high-quality instructional approaches. For more information on the First Things First initiative, see http://www.mdrc.org/publications/412/overview.html. 8
Student Achievement
Scores on the reading and mathematics subtests of the Stanford Achievement Test
(SAT) served as measures of student achievement. The SAT is a standardized achievement test administered to all students in the district in grades 1 to 11. The district administered one version of the test, the SAT-9, during the first two years covered by the study, changing to the
SAT-10 in the third year; Year 3 scores were transformed into SAT-9 norms. Test scores are expressed in terms of normal curve equivalents (NCEs).
28

28
Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE) scores have many of the same characteristics as percentile ranks, but are based on an equal-interval scale — that is, the difference between two successive scores has the same meaning at any two points along the scale.
1 2 3
Student achievement Administrative records
Prior achievement X
Subsequent achievement X
Student attitudes and behavior Student surveys
Engagement X X
Perceived academic competence X X
School context Student surveys
Teacher support X X
Clear, high, and consistent academic and behavioral expectations X X
High-quality pedagogy X X
Student demographic characteristics Administrative records
Gender X
Race/Ethnicity X
Free or reduced-price lunch X
School
1
X
Grade level X
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Years Measured
Construct Measured Data Source
Table 1
Constructs Measured, Data Sources, and Timeline for Data Collection
NOTES:
1
In no analysis did the school attended emerge as a statistically significant predictor; therefore it has been dropped from the subsequent tables.9
Year 1 scores indicate students’ achievement in grade 8 or grade 9. Year 3 scores indicate students’ achievement in grade 10 or grade 11.
Student Attitudes and Behavior
Student survey responses were used to create two scales of student attitudes and behaviors: the Student Engagement Scale and the Perceived Academic Competence Scale. The Appendix shows the items that make up these scales, as well as those pertaining to school context, as discussed below.
The Student Engagement Scale is an index of how hard students work in school and their level of participation in activities associated with academic success. It consists of five items, including, “I work very hard on my homework” and “I don’t try very hard at school.”
The Student-Perceived Academic Competence Scale is an index of students’ perceptions about how successful they can be in school and the degree of control they have over their academic success. It contains nine items, including, “I can do well in school if I want to,” “Trying hard is the best way for me to do well in school,” and “I’m pretty smart in school.” Internal consistency reliabilities for the indices ranged from .71 to .74 for School Engagement and .79 to .78 for Perceived Academic Competence in Years 2 and 3, respectively.
School Context
The student surveys also yielded measures of students’ perceptions of three important aspects of the school environment: teacher support; clear, high, and consistent expectations; and high-quality pedagogy.
The Teacher Support Scale is an index of how much students feel that their teachers support them and like them. It consists of eight items, including, “My teachers interrupt me when I have something to say” and “My teachers care about how I do in school.” Internal consistency reliabilities for the index ranged from .77 to .78 in Years 2 and 3, respectively.
Two indices assess the presence of clear, high, and consistent expectations. Academic expectations define what all students should know and be able to do within and across key content areas when they leave high school and at points along the way in their school careers. The
Academic Expectations Scale contains 14 items, including, “Your teacher makes clear to you that you are expected to come to class prepared,” “Everybody is expected to take part in classroom activities,” and “Your teacher makes clear to you examples of high-quality work that will lead to high grades.”
Conduct expectations define how adults and students should behave; there are clear benefits for meeting these standards and consequences for violating them. The Conduct Expectations Scale consists of 11 items, including, “Your teacher makes clear to you what student 10 conduct is unacceptable,” “The rules in this school are very clear,” and “Students in my school are expected to treat all of the adults in this school with respect all of the time.” Internal consistency reliabilities ranged from .80 to .85 for Academic Expectations and .68 to .72 for Conduct
Expectations in Years 2 and 3, respectively.
High-quality pedagogy is assessed by three indices of instructional practice: active learning strategies, making connections and extensions, and student-to-student interactions. Active learning is defined as engaging students in pairs or small groups to write, discuss, and/or manipulate learning equipment or materials. The Active Learning Strategies Scale contains 11 items. For example, students were asked, with respect to their English or math class, “How often do students in your class discuss and ask each other questions about the work you’re doing?” and “How often do students in your class work on projects that last several class periods?”
Making connections and extensions is defined as the degree to which students participate in activities that require them to connect what they are learning to real-world circumstances, solve novel problems, and extend their knowledge to different situations. The Making
Connections and Extensions Scale consists of four items, including, “When you are learning
English [or math], how much do your teachers emphasize learning to find more than one way of approaching a problem or issue?” and “How much do your teachers emphasize making connections between what goes on inside and outside of school?”
Student-to-student interactions are defined as the level of interactions between students in classroom activities that are designed to promote learning. The Student-to-Student Interactions Scale has five items, including, “In your English [or math] class, how true is it that students go over and discuss each other’s work?” and “How true is it that students review what they’ve learned with one another?” Internal consistency reliabilities ranged from .71 to .75 for
Active Learning, .68 to .71 for Making Connections, and .76 to .74 for Student-to-Student Interactions in Years 2 and 3, respectively.
Data Analysis Strategy
The study employs path analysis modeling techniques. Path analysis is an extension of regression analysis, a statistical technique for producing a quantitative estimate of how much one variable (the “independent variable”) influences another variable (the “dependent variable”). Path analysis models specify hypothesized associations or directional relationships among a set of sequentially ordered variables. A given model is usually depicted as a set of circles or boxes representing the variables that are connected by one-way arrows, which indicate the hypothesized direction of causation. Each variable in a path analysis model is considered as the dependent variable in a regression analysis in which antecedent variables are treated as independent variables; at the same time, a variable that serves as a dependent variable in one part 11 of the model may serve as an independent variable in another part of the model. The strength of path analysis is that particular influences can be examined while controlling for all other variables in the model; both direct and indirect influences can be examined.
29
Path analysis is used to test various causal models that the researcher is comparing. The regression weights predicted by each analysis model are compared with the correlation matrix for the variables, and a goodness-of-fit statistic is calculated. The best-fitting of two or more models is selected by the researcher as the best model for advancement of the theory.
Path analysis requires the usual assumptions of regression analysis. It is particularly sensitive to model specification, because failure to include relevant causal variables or the inclusion of extraneous variables often substantially affects the path coefficients, which are used to assess the relative importance of various direct and indirect causal paths to the dependent variable. Such interpretations should be undertaken in the context of comparing alternative models, after assessing their goodness of fit.
By using EQS, a latent variable modeling regression software program,
30
analyses were conducted that took into account the residual error of each predictor and criterion variable in the model. This accounting for residual error allowed the relationships among latent constructs to be modeled by removing sources of error that may have had an adverse influence on the statistical findings.
Different path analysis models address the four research questions set out at the beginning of the paper.
Figure 2 depicts the model used to answer the first question:
• What is the influence of the two psychological variables — engagement in school and perceived academic competence — on student achievement in reading and mathematics?
This analysis estimated the longitudinal influence of student engagement and perceived academic competence on achievement. Year 3 mathematics and reading achievement scores were the critical outcomes of interest (the dependent variable), while engagement and perceived academic competence, measured in Year 2, were the key predictor (independent) variables.
Separate analyses were conducted for reading and mathematics achievement. 29
The direct effect is the partial coefficient (beta for standardized, b for unstandardized) for y on x controlling for all prior variables and all intervening variables in the model. The indirect effect is the total causal effect minus the direct influence, and measures the influence of the intervening variables.
30
EQS-Structural Equation Modeling Software, Multivariate Software Inc. 12
Like the others analyses described below, this analysis controlled for prior academic achievement (measured in Year 1) and student demographic and other characteristics (measured in
Year 3) — variables that would be expected to be highly associated with the dependent variable.
31

Other path analysis models tackled the second research question:
• If these psychological variables do have a positive influence on achievement, which elements of the school context support the development of higher levels of student engagement and competence?
Here, the key outcomes of interest are school engagement and perceived academic competence, as measured by the Year 3 surveys. Because the influence of school context on engagement in school and perceived academic competence may be either long term or immediate, two different analyses were conducted. The lagged analysis, shown in Figure 3a, examined the relationships between students’ perceptions of the school context in Year 2 and their psychological dispositions in Year 3. In contrast, in the concurrent model, shown in Figure 3b, students’ perceptions of school context and their psychological dispositions were measured in the same year, Year 3. 31
The measure of prior achievement is the average of reading and math NCE scores for Year 1. 13
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Figure 3a
Lagged Model of Influence of School Context on Student Engagement and
Perceived Academic Competence
Prior
achievement
Year 1
School context
Year 2
Student
engagement and perceived academic competence Year 3
Student
demographics
Year 3
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Figure 3b
Concurrent Model of Influence of School Context on Student
Engagement and Perceived Academic Competence
Prior
achievement
Year 1
School context
Year 3
Student
engagement and perceived academic competence Year 3
Student
demographics
Year 314
Yet another path analysis model was used to address the third research question:
• What is the directionality of the relationship between perceived academic competence and student engagement?
Did students who were initially more engaged in their schoolwork come to see themselves as more academically competent? Or did students who initially viewed themselves as more academically competent come to feel more engaged? Figure 4 shows this cross-lagged analysis. 32 Cross-lagged models allow researchers to simultaneously test the directional influence of two variables on one another over time and to make judgments about the relative strength of the influences.
A final set of models addressed the fourth question the study seeks to answer:
• What is the directionality of the relationships between school context variables and the psychological variables? 32
The model in Figure 4 also controlled for school context variables in the analysis. 15
Did students who felt more supported by their teachers in Year 2 display greater engagement in Year 3? Or, conversely, did students who were more engaged in Year 2 perceive their teachers to be more supportive in Year 3? This analysis entailed another set of models in which the school context factors that were found to be statistically significant predictors of the psychological variables were cross-lagged with student engagement and with perceived academic competence. These models follow the general structure shown in Figure 5.
Different schools may offer their students different learning experiences, and these, in turn, may contribute to differences in student achievement, engagement, and perceived academic competence. To control for these potential differences on the dependent variable, a series of fixed school influences were entered into the model. These school-level fixed influences were included in all analyses.
It is important to acknowledge at the outset that while the purpose of the path analysis models is to provide estimates of causal relationships among variables, path analysis cannot establish definitively that one variable indeed has a causal role with respect to another variable.
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Figure 5 Cross-Lagged Model of Relationship Between Student Engagement and
Teacher Support
Student
demographics
Year 3
Prior
achievement
Year 1
Student
engagement
Year 2
Teacher
support
Year 2
Teacher
support
Year 3
Student
engagement
Year 3 16
At best, it can provide evidence that is consistent with causal explanations. In the text below, the term “influence” is used to describe the putatively causal role of one variable with respect to another — that is, Variable A is said to “influence” Variable B when evidence is consistent with the notion that A caused B.
Results
This section presents the study’s findings. It begins by presenting descriptive statistics on the variables used in the analyses. Attention then turns to the four questions that underlie the study. The implications of the findings are discussed in the final section of the paper.
All of the analyses below control for student demographic characteristics and prior achievement in examining the relationships between the key variables of interest. To avoid redundancy, only additional control variables introduced in the analyses are noted in the text.
Descriptive Statistics
Table 2 shows the mean and standard deviation of each variable included in the analyses described above for each year in which the variable was measured. As noted above, the student achievement measures are NCE scores on the SAT-9 and SAT-10, while the measures of student attitudes and behavior and school context are scales whose value ranges from 1 to 4
(with higher values representing a greater quantity of a particular construct).
Research Question 1: The Influence of School Engagement and Perceived
Academic Competence on Academic Achievement
The first research question examined the influence of student engagement and perceived academic competence on reading and math achievement. The key findings follow:
• Finding 1. Both prior student engagement and perceived academic competence had a significant positive influence on subsequent levels of math achievement, but the influence of perceived academic competence was three times larger than that of engagement.
• Finding 2. Perceived academic competence had a positive influence on reading achievement; the influence of engagement was more complex.
• Finding 3. Prior achievement was also significantly related to perceived competence, suggesting that students who do well on reading and mathematics assessment tests then perceive themselves as able learners, which promotes more reading and mathematics success. 17
Tables 3 and 4 provide the detailed results of the analyses for math and reading outcomes, respectively. The tables show the standardized regression coefficient of each independent variable.
The standardized regression coefficient can be interpreted as the standard deviation change in the dependent variable associated with one standard deviation change in the independent variable.
The tables also show the level of statistical significance associated with each coefficient.
Mathematics Achievement
Table 3 shows the results of the analyses that examined the relationships between student engagement and perceived academic competence and mathematics achievement across all
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
SAT-9/10 mathematics achievement 40.23 15.48 NA NA 43.66 13.16
SAT-9/10 reading achievement 34.31 17.64 NA NA 38.93 17.91
Engagement NA NA 3.19 0.49 3.26 0.44
Perceived academic competence NA NA 3.2 0.54 3.27 0.57
Supportive teacher relationships NA NA 2.86 0.56 2.89 0.54
Clear, high, and consistent behavioral expectations NA NA 2.67 0.46 2.91 0.48
Clear, high, and consistent academic expectations NA NA 3.13 0.42 3.11 0.46
Pedagogy: making connections and extensions NA NA 2.74 0.59 2.82 0.60
Pedagogy: active learning NA NA 1.82 0.54 1.88 0.56
Pedagogy: student-to-student interactions NA NA 2.61 0.61 2.62 0.60
Student attitudes and behavior
School context
Year 1 a Year 2 Year 3
Student achievement
Table 2
Means and Standard Deviations of All Analysis Variables
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Analysis Variables
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from individual student school records from a large, urban school district (N=449).
NOTES: The student achievement measures are Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) scores expressed in terms of normal curve equivalents (NCEs). The measures of student attitudes and behaviors and of school context are scales whose value ranges from 1 to 4, with higher values representing a greater quantity of a particular construct. a
Prior Reading and Math Achievement is measured in Year 1. All other achievement and survey measures were measured in Year 2 and Year 3. 18 students. The results suggest that higher levels of both engagement and perceived academic competence in Year 2 preceded higher levels of math achievement in Year 3, although the influence of perceived academic competence was approximately three times larger than that of engagement. These findings suggest: (1) how competent a student feels in previous school years plays a primary role in predicting how well she or he will perform on subsequent math tests and
Analysis Variables
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
Student attitudes and behavior a Engagement 0.052 *
Perceived academic competence 0.175 **
Student background
Prior reading achievement 0.543 ***
Race/Ethnicity
Black -0.233 ***
Hispanic -0.036 NS
White 0.169 **
Gender (males) -0.021 NS
SES (free or reduced-price lunch) 0.002 NS
Grade (10th) -0.079 *
Effects of prior achievement on student attitudes and behavior
PA on student engagement 0.064 *
PA on perceived academic competence 0.264 ***
Table 3
Influence of Student Attitudes and Behavior on Mathematics Achievement
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from individual student school records from a large, urban school district
(N=449).
NOTES: Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *** = 1 percent; ** = 5 percent; *= 10 percent.
NS=Not Significant. a The correlation between school engagement and perceived academic competence in Year 2 is quite high, r = .582; therefore, this parameter was estimated in the model to improve model fit. 19
(2) how engaged a student is in behavior associated with school success (such as doing homework and trying hard in school) plays a secondary but meaningful role in determining the level of mathematics achievement.
How big were these influences? A useful way to think about this question is to compare the magnitude of the influence with the amount of change that would normally be expected over the course of a school year. Previous research has shown that on average, secondary students improve about one-quarter of a standard deviation in their reading or mathematics achievement over the year.
33
The standardized regression coefficient for engagement is .052, or approximately 21 percent of the change in mathematics scores that would be expected from the beginning until the end of the year. In comparison, the standardized regression coefficient for perceived academic competence — .175 — represents nearly 70 percent of the change in math achievement that would normally be expected over the course of the year.
Several characteristics in students’ backgrounds were also significantly related to math achievement. As might be expected, prior math achievement had the strongest relationship with subsequent math performance, with an expected change in math scores of more than 7 NCE points. African-American students scored significantly lower than Hispanic or white students, on average, while white students scored higher than either Hispanic students or African-American students. Finally, tenth-graders in Year 3 scored slightly lower than eleventh-graders in Year 3.
Within the same model predicting mathematics achievement, it was also possible to estimate the influence of prior achievement on subsequent engagement and perceived academic competence. Students with higher math scores in Year 1 reported feeling more engaged and more academically competent in Year 2. Although prior achievement had a significant influence on both psychological outcomes, the influence was much stronger for perceived competence than for engagement. It appears that higher achievement test scores validated students’ sense of themselves as able learners and had a weaker, but still statistically significant, influence on their commitment to doing a good job on their schoolwork.
Reading Achievement
Table 4 shows the results of the analyses that examined the relationships between engagement in school and perceived academic competence and reading achievement. The findings for reading were quite different from those for mathematics. While previous level of perceived academic competence was an important antecedent of achievement in both reading and math, engagement showed a quite different pattern. In contrast to the positive influence of a prior level 33
Kane (2004). 20 of student engagement on mathematics achievement, lower levels of prior engagement appeared to be associated with greater future reading success.
As noted above, students would normally be expected to register an increase in reading of .25 standard deviation from the beginning to the end of the school year. But in this analysis, a one standard deviation increase in prior engagement produced a reduction in future reading test scores. Unlike student engagement, perceived academic competence was positively related to higher levels of future reading achievement. Students who felt more competent in Year 2 were likely to have higher reading achievement in Year 3.
Analysis Variables
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
Student attitudes and behavior a Engagement -0.067 *
Perceived academic competence 0.167 **
Student background
Prior reading achievement 0.722 ***
Race/Ethnicity
Black -0.032 ***
Hispanic -0.087
White 0.019 **
Gender (males) 0.041 NS
SES (free or reduced-price lunch) 0.004 NS
Grade (10th) 0.154 *
Effects of prior achievement on student attitudes and behavior
PA on student engagement 0.063 *
PA on perceived academic competence 0.244 ***
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Table 4
Influence of Student Attitudes and Behavior on Reading Achievement
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from individual student school records from a large, urban school district
(N=449).
NOTES: Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *** = 1 percent; ** = 5 percent; *= 10 percent.
NS=Not Significant. a
The correlation between school engagement and perceived academic competence in Year 2 is quite high, r = .572; therefore, this parameter was estimated in the model to improve model fit.21
To follow up on the unexpected negative relationship of engagement in school with reading achievement, a model was estimated that omitted perceived academic competence. As expected, the influence of engagement became somewhat stronger (b = .090) and positive.
From these results, it appears that perceived academic competence had a mediating influence on the relationship between student engagement and reading achievement. This suggests that once the positive relationship between perceived academic competence and reading was accounted for, students displaying higher levels of engagement were less likely to be successful in their reading performance.
As an additional follow-up, interaction analyses were conducted to determine if the influence of engagement in school on reading achievement was different for students with different levels of confidence in their ability to be successful in school. The results from these findings suggest that engagement had a relatively strong influence on reading achievement (b =
.197) for students with moderate levels of perceived competence, and a relatively weak influence on reading achievement for students with high and low levels of perceived competence (b
= .031 and b = .033, respectively).
Interaction analyses were again conducted to examine more fully the relationship between perceived academic competence and reading achievement as a function of levels of engagement in school. The results of these analyses indicate that at low levels of engagement, the relationship between perceived competence and reading achievement was somewhat negative
(b =-.067); at moderate levels of engagement, the relationship was relatively strong (b = .289); and at high levels of engagement, the relationship was positive (b = .091), but less strong than at moderate levels of engagement.
As with mathematics achievement, within the model of reading achievement it was possible to estimate the influence of prior achievement on subsequent engagement and perceived academic competence. Students with higher reading scores in Year 1 reported feeling more academically competent in Year 2; they also reported feeling more engaged in school, although this influence was weaker.
Research Question 2: The Influence of School Context on Student Attitudes and
Behaviors
Since student attitudes and behaviors — especially perceived academic competence — appear to be important antecedents of math and reading performance, it is important to determine which conditions in classrooms support the development of higher levels of perceived academic competence and engagement in school. Key findings from analyses of this question include:
• Finding 4. Several aspects of school context — teacher support, clear and consistent expectations of behavior, and student-to-student interactions in the 22 classroom — were significantly and positively related to engagement.
Teacher support and expectations of conduct had an immediate influence on student engagement that was stronger than the longer-term influence, although both influences were statistically significant.
• Finding 5. Teacher support and expectations of conduct were also significantly related to levels of perceived academic competence; again, the immediate influence of these variables was stronger than their longer-term influence.
• Finding 6. High academic expectations and a high level of student-to-student interactions in classroom instruction (such as student-led discussions) appear to have had a negative influence on perceived academic competence levels.
• Finding 7. Active learning and making connections and extensions did not appear to be related to either engagement or perceived academic competence.
Academic expectations also were not related to engagement.
Tables 5 and 6 show the influence of characteristics of school context (that is, supportive teacher relationships; clear, high, and consistent expectations; and high-quality pedagogy) on engagement in school and perceived academic competence, respectively. For each dependent variable, results for both the concurrent and the lagged models are displayed.
34
Student Engagement
Table 5 shows the results of the examination of the relationships between characteristics of school context and engagement in school. Both the concurrent and the lagged analysis models show that students who reported experiencing higher levels of support from their teachers and greater understanding of the conduct expected of them also reported higher levels of engagement in school. The influence of these two variables in school context was stronger when students experienced these conditions during the same year that they rated their degree of engagement. Unlike conduct expectations, high and clear academic expectations were not related to student engagement, either immediately or in the longer term.
Three variables measured the quality of pedagogy: active learning strategies, an emphasis on making connections between class work and life outside school, and instructional activities involving student-to-student interactions. In the lagged model, only student-to-student interactions were associated with subsequent engagement. When pedagogy and student engagement 34
Lagged models consist of predictors measured at Year 2 and outcome variables measured during Year 3, except for prior achievement which was measured in Year 1. Concurrent models consist of predictors and outcome variables measured during the same school year, Year 3, except for prior achievement and student background characteristics (measured in Year 1) and prior level of school engagement (measured in Year 2). 23
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
School context
Supportive teacher relationships 0.235 ** 0.065 *
Clear, high, and consistent expectations b Academic expectations 0.036 NS 0.034 NS
Conduct expectations 0.187 ** 0.071 *
High-quality pedagogy and strategies c Active learning 0.049 NS 0.021 NS
Making connections and extensions 0.046 NS 0.023 NS
Student-to-student interactions -0.013 NS 0.074 *
Student background
Prior level of student engagement 0.434 *** 0.487 ***
Race/Ethnicity
Black 0.039 NS 0.044 NS
Hispanic -0.028 NS -0.044 NS
White 0.006 NS 0.009 NS
Gender (males) -0.126 ** -0.152 **
SES (free or reduced-price lunch) -0.153 *** -0.089 *
Grade (10th) -0.015 NS -0.002 NS
Prior achievement (Year 1) 0.196 ***
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Concurrent Model
Analysis Variables a Lagged Model
Table 5
Influence of School Context on Student Engagement
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from individual student school records from a large, urban school district
(N=449).
NOTES: Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *** = 1 percent; ** = 5 percent; *= 10 percent.
NS=Not Significant. a
The overall lagged model accounted for approximately 45 percent of the variation in school engagement levels, scores (R-squared = .448). The overall concurrent model accounted for approximately 50 percent of the variance in school engagement levels (R-squared = .495). b
To specify a correct model, both expectations variables were allowed to co-vary among each other. The correlation between academic and behavioral expectations was rAE*BE = .501. c
To specify a correct model, all three pedagogy variables were allowed to co-vary among each other.
Correlations among pedagogy predictors are as follows: rAL*MC = .432, rAL*ss = .349, and rMC*SS = .416.24 were measured simultaneously, there was no relationship between the two constructs — suggesting that, for this sample at least, pedagogy played little role in explaining students’ levels of engagement. One plausible explanation is that students consistently reported relatively low levels of high-quality pedagogy, leaving very little variation in their experience to be explained.
Student background also played an important role in explaining Year 3 engagement in school. The strongest predictor of current engagement in school was students’ previous level of engagement. Students who were more engaged during one year were much more likely to be engaged the next. Prior achievement was also significantly related to Year 2 engagement; that is, students who had higher levels of academic achievement in the first year of the study were more likely to be engaged in school the next year. However, the influence of prior achievement on engagement appeared to be moderated by perceived academic competence. When level of perceived academic competence was taken into account, the influence of prior achievement on engagement was reduced by two-thirds. This suggests that some of the variation in students’ levels of engagement in Year 3 was explained by how competent students felt the previous year, which was itself a function of how academically successful the students were in Year 1.
Perceived Academic Competence
Table 6 shows the results of concurrent and lagged analyses that examined the relationships between characteristics of school context and perceived academic competence. The analyses revealed that teacher support and high, clear, and consistent expectations of conduct contributed to students’ belief that they could be successful. The influence was both immediate
(when all constructs were measured in the same school year) and longer term (when support and conduct expectations were measured one year and academic competence the next year), although the immediate influence was much stronger than the longer-term influence.
However, in contrast to the student engagement results, higher levels of academic expectations and students’ experience of more student-to-student interactions in their classes one year were associated with lower levels of perceived academic competence that year. That is, students reported that they felt less competent academically the more they experienced high, clear, and consistent academic expectations, and the more they were engaged in classroom activities that involved students working together. It may be that the more clearly students came to understand what constitutes high-quality performance — from examples provided either by their teachers or their peers — the more critical they became of their own work.
Background characteristics also played an important role in explaining how academically competent the students felt. The strongest predictor of perceived academic competence in 25
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
School context
Supportive teacher relationships 0.265 ** 0.067 *
Clear, high, and consistent expectations b Academic expectations -0.097 * 0.037 NS
Conduct expectations 0.292 ** 0.062 *
High-quality pedagogy and strategies c Active learning 0.004 NS 0.027 NS
Making connections and extensions 0.045 NS -0.039 NS
Student-to-student interactions -0.081 * 0.047 NS
Student background
Prior level of perceived academic competence 0.519 *** 0.505 ***
Race/Ethnicity
Black 0.078 * 0.087 *
Hispanic -0.033 NS -0.058 NS
White 0.029 NS 0.03 NS
Gender (males) 0.008 NS -0.056 NS
SES (free or reduced-price lunch) 0.023 NS -0.046 NS
Grade (10th) 0.037 NS 0.04 NS
Prior achievement (Year 1) 0.298 ***
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Analysis Variables a Lagged Model
Table 6
Influence of School Context on Perceived Academic Competence
Concurrent Model
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from individual student school records from a large, urban school district
(N=449).
NOTES: Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *** = 1 percent; ** = 5 percent; *= 10 percent.
NS=Not Significant. a
The overall lagged model accounted for approximately 35 percent of the variation in perceived academic competence levels (R-squared = .398). The overall concurrent model accounted for approximately 49 percent of the variance in perceived academic competence levels (R-squared = .488). b
To specify a correct model, both expectations variables were allowed to co-vary among each other. The correlation between academic and behavioral expectations was rAE*BE = .497. c
To specify a correct model, all three pedagogy variables were allowed to co-vary among each other.
Correlations among pedagogy predictors are as follows: rAL*MC = .441, rAL*ss = .347, and rMC*SS = .402.26
Year 3 was perceived academic competence the previous year, controlling for prior achievement.
35
Finally, African-American students reported higher levels of perceived academic competence than students in other groups.
Research Question 3: Directionality of the Relationship Between School
Engagement and Perceived Academic Competence
The longitudinal data used in this paper make it possible to consider the directionality of relationships among constructs in the model, answering the question, “Which came first?” In the previous analyses of the influences of student attitudes and behavior on reading and math achievement, the correlations between the measures of school engagement and perceived academic competence were quite high (r = .582 and r = .584, respectively). Since both engagement and perceived competence appear to be important antecedents of academic performance, it is useful to examine the relationship between the two variables. The key finding to emerge from this analysis is:
• Finding 8. The data suggest that perceived academic competence is more likely to precede engagement in school than vice versa.
The cross-lagged correlation model, shown in Figure 4, was used to estimate the directionality of the influence between student engagement and perceived academic competence.
The analysis examined the influence of perceived competence measured in Year 2 on engagement measured in Year 3 (controlling for Year 2 engagement); it also estimated the influence of
Year 2 engagement on Year 3 perceived competence (controlling for Year 2 perceived competence). Table 7 makes it clear that the lagged influence of perceived academic competence on student engagement was more than twice as large as the lagged influence of student engagement on perceived academic competence, although both influences were statistically significant. This suggests that perceived academic competence may precede engagement — that is, students who see themselves as academically competent become more engaged over time. The model also supports the theory — but less strongly — that students who are engaged early become more confident of their ability to be academically successful.
Research Question 4: Directionality of the Relationships Between the Psychological and School Context Measures
Do students who perceive the school environment as more supportive subsequently experience greater engagement and perceive themselves as more academically competent? Or do students who are more engaged and feel more competent then come to believe that their school 35
As noted above, prior achievement was related in an important way to students’ feelings of perceived academic competence, and this, in turn, led to better academic outcomes. 27 environment is more supportive? The fourth research question examines the directionality of the relationships between student engagement and perceived academic competence and those school context characteristics that the preceding analyses found to be significantly associated with engagement and competence. (As a reminder, teacher support, expectations of conduct, and student-to-student interactions in the classroom were identified as important in developing student engagement; and teacher support and expectations of conduct contributed to students’ expectations of success in school.)
Key findings answering this research question include:
• Finding 9. Students who were more confident academically and more engaged in learning tended to report more supportive relationships with teachers. There was also a weaker but nonetheless statistically significant influence in the opposite direction (that is, students who had more supportive relationships with teachers were more confident academically and were more engaged in learning).
• Finding 10. Students who believed that the rules of conduct in their school were clear and fairly administered were more likely to feel engaged and academically successful the next year.
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
Student engagement influence on perceived academic competence 0.069 *
Perceived academic competence influence on student engagement 0.159 **
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Model
Lagged Model
Table 7
Cross-Lagged Influence of Student Engagement and Perceived Academic
Competence
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from individual student school records from a large, urban school district
(N=449).
NOTES: Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *** = 1 percent; ** = 5 percent; *= 10 percent. 28
• Finding 11. Students who said that they participated in learning activities that involved working with their classmates were more engaged in school a year later.
To examine the directionality of the influence of important variables in the school context on school engagement and perceived academic competence, cross-lagged models (like the one shown in Figure 5) were analyzed for each pair of school context and student attitudes and behavior variables. Table 8 presents the results.
Standardized
Coefficient
Statistical
Significance
Teacher support
Student engagement influence on teacher support 0.202 **
Teacher support influence on student engagement 0.065 *
Perceived academic competence influence on teacher support 0.104 **
Teacher support influence on perceived academic competence 0.067 *
Conduct expectations
Student engagement influence on conduct expectations 0.034 NS
Conduct expectations influence on student engagement 0.071 *
Perceived academic competence influence on conduct expectations 0.002 NS
Conduct expectations influence on perceived academic competence 0.062 *
Student-to-student interactions
Student engagement influence on student-to-student interactions 0.046 NS
Student-to-student interactions influence on student engagement 0.074 *
School Context Variables
Lagged Model
School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
Cross-Lagged Influence of Student Engagement, Perceived Academic Competence,
Table 8 and School Context
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from individual student school records from a large, urban school district
(N=449).
NOTES: Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *** = 1 percent; ** = 5 percent; *= 10 percent.
NS=Not Significant.29
Teacher Support and Student Engagement and
Perceived Academic Competence
Table 8 shows that the influence of student engagement and perceived academic competence on teacher support were stronger than the influence of teacher support on student engagement and perceived academic competence — from one and a half to three times greater.
These findings suggest that students who are more academically confident and engaged tend to have more supportive relationships with teachers, and that teachers appear to be more supportive of students whom they perceive as more involved in the academic process. There was a less strong but statistically significant finding that students who experienced high levels of teacher support one year were somewhat more engaged the next year and also felt more confident of their ability to do well.
Conduct Expectations and Student Engagement and
Perceived Academic Competence
Expectations of conduct appeared to have a stronger influence on students’ reports of engagement and their feelings of academic competence and success than vice versa. Students who reported that in their school there were clear and consistent behavioral norms and expectations for both students and teachers felt more academically confident and more engaged in school the next year. The opposite was not the case: Students who were more engaged and felt more competent in their studies did not necessarily see the school climate as fair.
Student-to-Student Interactions and Student Engagement
Participation in classroom activities in which students worked together and helped each other learn was significantly related to how engaged students were in school a year later. Prior level of engagement was not related to how much students experienced student-to-student interactions in the learning process.
Study Limitations
The findings suggest interesting correlations among student achievement, engagement in school, perceived competence, and school context and also provide some evidence about the direction and nature of the linkages among these constructs. However, it is also important to recognize that the study has several limitations associated with the sample of students in the analysis, the data collection methods and measures, and the overall modeling approach and specification of the model.
The sample for the study was drawn from an existing data set of students with unique characteristics. The students in the sample were primarily low-income, relatively low-achieving, 30 primarily Hispanic high school students. The findings may not generalize to students with different characteristics, such as those who come from more advantaged backgrounds, are higherachieving, or are predominantly white or African-American. Equally important, the students in the sample had persisted in school from eighth grade to tenth grade (for the first cohort of students) or from ninth grade to eleventh grade (for the second cohort). Students who stay in school may be different systematically and may have perceptions that are different from those who have already dropped out of high school.
The data used in the analyses were based primarily on students’ self-reports (with the exception of academic achievement data). They did not involve teachers’ reports or direct classroom observations, only students’ perceptions of classroom conditions. Without additional data, it is difficult to determine to what extent teachers demonstrated high-quality pedagogy and clear, high, and consistent academic and expectations of conduct.
There are other issues associated with the data. First, the linkages among school context, engagement in school, perceived academic competence, and achievement might have been much more clearly delineated if they had been related to specific learning tasks. In this study, students’ survey responses were directed toward their current mathematics or English class in general, rather than to specific learning tasks.
Second, the measures of mathematics and English achievement were not specific to any one classroom context, but rather to the cumulative set of English or math classes taken by the student over the course of his or her school career, and therefore may have been quite insensitive to the real influence of engagement or perceived competence. More sensitive measures might be developed to link these constructs to a specific classroom context.
Third, the operational definitions of the constructs were based on a specific theoretical framework developed by the First Things First reform and drawn from existing data used in its evaluation. While the findings were limited to the confines of the measures and operational definitions associated with those measures, alternative conceptions of student engagement or high-quality pedagogy are possible. For example, a model that included items measuring more cognitive aspects of engagement might yield findings that differ from those presented here, which were based on self-reported behavioral engagement in school.
Finally, the approaches to data analyses used here cannot yield definitive conclusions.
While the lagged models allow for testing hypotheses about directional influences, only with caution should the findings be interpreted as causal. It is possible for a condition to precede an outcome without causing the outcome. This notion of causality is even less tenable in the concurrent models, where no time lag exists between the measures. 31
Moreover, the general model hypothesized for this study (Figure 1) is only one of many plausible alternative models that could be postulated to examine the relationships among school context, engagement in school, perceived academic competence, and student achievement. In this study, pedagogy and academic expectations did not predict engagement in school and perceived academic competence. This finding does not necessarily mean that pedagogy and academic expectations have no influence on student attitudes and behavior. Rather, a different model may be needed to explain the relationship of these constructs to the measures of student attitudes, behavior, and performance in the study. For example, pedagogy may have a direct influence on achievement, which then may lead to increased engagement in school and perceived academic competence. Other constructs not measured here, such as a highly developed sense of classroom community, quality or immediacy of feedback, or level of recognition and praise may actually be the critical supports in the development of engagement in school and perceived academic competence.
Implications for Research and Practice
The findings of this study have important implications for understanding how children learn in the classroom. Engagement in school was a critical predictor of mathematics achievement for high school students, a finding that is consistent with much of the literature. In contrast to the existing literature, this study also suggests that perceived academic competence may play an even more important role than engagement in shaping achievement outcomes. The influence of perceived academic competence on both reading and mathematics achievement was between two and four times larger than that of engagement in school. Furthermore, perceived academic competence appears both to predict engagement and to mediate the influence of engagement on achievement.
The process, it seems, hinges on students developing a sense of efficacy and confidence about their ability to do well in school. Once students are confident of their ability to succeed, they become more engaged and learn more. On the other hand, students are not likely to attempt educational tasks when they feel they cannot succeed. And they are not likely to feel that they can succeed unless they have previously experienced success, along with the support needed to achieve that success.
These findings suggest that the earlier schools and teachers begin to build students’ confidence in their ability to do well, the better off students will be. Because students’ notions of their capacity to be successful are so important to engagement in school and learning, school contexts should be designed in ways that support feelings of success. This study found that two factors in the school context — supportive teachers and clear and high expectations about behavior — were key to enhancing the development of both perceived competence and engagement. Teachers whom students see as supportive and who set clear rules and guidelines about 32 behavior help create an atmosphere in which students feel in control and confident about their ability to succeed in future educational endeavors.
The study also makes the case that student engagement is enhanced by learning activities that involve student-to-student interaction. Other research suggests that challenging and attainable academic goals, teaching strategies that emphasize student collaboration, and subject matter that is meaningful and connected to students’ experiences also contribute to their feelings of academic competence and engagement. Teacher training strategies should focus on assisting teachers to create collaborative, supportive environments with high but achievable standards.
It is puzzling that the study discerned so few statistically significant relationships between the measures of high-quality instruction and those of perceived academic competence and engagement in school. It may be that students did not accurately interpret what was happening in their classes. It may also be that the First Things First program had not been in place long enough for students to experience meaningful increases in academic expectations or active and connected learning strategies. There may simply have been too little variation across students’ instructional experiences to clearly understand the relationships between teaching strategies and perceived academic competence and engagement in school.
The relationships that did emerge between these constructs tended to be negative (except for collaborative student-to-student interactions). This supports the conclusion that clear and high academic expectations and active and connected learning strategies may not in and of themselves be sufficient to increase students’ sense of involvement in learning and their belief that they can do well. If students view academic standards as so high that they are unattainable, they are unlikely to feel that they can be successful, and will be less engaged in schoolwork.
Similarly, if students are exposed to active and connected learning strategies without sufficient scaffolding and support, the strategies will have a detrimental influence on their perceived capacity for success and their subsequent engagement in school and learning.
The findings also suggest that the supportive influence of school context may be more immediate than long term. The relationships between supportive relationships with teachers and clear behavioral norms on one hand, and perceived academic competence on the other, were much stronger in the same year than they were across years. Treating students well in the short term, then, may lead them to feel more confident, become more engaged, and learn more. But a positive initial experience is not enough, as the influences fade from one year to the next. To be successful in the long term, students may need supportive teachers and high-quality instruction throughout their high school careers. At the same time, the findings also suggest that an intervention that emphasizes supportive relationships, high and clear expectations, and high-quality instruction can make a difference to students at any point in their educational careers, and that these factors in the school context will produce strong and immediate influences. It is never too late to create high-quality academic environments with positive benefits for students. Appendix
Survey Items Used to Create Student Attitudes and Behavior Scales and School Context Scales 34
Construct Survey Items
Student Attitudes and Behavior Scales
Student
Engagement
Scale
• S5: How important is it to you to do the best you can at school?
• S8: I pay attention in class.
• S39: I often come to class unprepared.
• S44: I work very hard on my schoolwork.
• S53: I don’t try very hard in school.
Student-
Perceived
Academic
Competence
Scale
• S14: I can’t do well in school.
• S18: I can do well in school if I want to.
• S16: I don’t know what it takes to get good grades in school.
• S22: I’m not very smart in school.
• S29: I can’t work very hard in school.
• S35: Trying hard is the best way for me to do well in school.
• S41: I don’t know how to keep myself from getting bad grades.
• S50: I’m pretty smart in school.
• S56: I am unlucky in school.
School Context Scales Clarity of Expectations
Teacher
Support Scale
• S12: My teachers aren’t fair with me.
• S17: My teachers like the other kids in my class better than me.
ƒ S24: My teachers don’t make clear what they expect of me in school.
ƒ S28: My teachers interrupt me when I have something to say.
ƒ S31: My teachers like to be with me.
ƒ S42: My teachers are fair with me.
ƒ S47: My teachers’ expectations for me are way off base.
ƒ S57: My teachers care about how I do in school.
Academic
Expectations
Scale
• S73: Your teacher makes clear to you how major assignments you’re given will be evaluated and graded.
• S74: Your teacher makes clear to you how your overall grade will be determined. • S75: Your teacher makes clear to you examples of high-quality work that will lead to high grades.
• S76: Your teacher makes clear to you examples of poor-quality work that will lead to low grades.
• S77: Your teacher makes clear to you that are expected to come to class prepared. • S78: Your teacher makes clear to you that the work is meant to challenge you.
(continued) 35
Construct Survey Items
Academic
Expectations
Scale (continued)
• S79: You are expected to do your very best work all of the time.
• S80: You can do good work if you try hard and participate fully in classroom activities.
• S81: Your teacher makes clear to you how to figure out specific steps you can take to improve your performance.
• S85: You understand exactly what your grade is based on.
• S90: Everybody is expected to take part in classroom activities.
• S93: It’s easy to “tune out” and not take part in class.
• S96: All students are expected to work hard during class.
• S97: Students can get away with not participating in class as long as they don’t make trouble.
Conduct
Expectations
Scale
• S82: Your teacher makes clear to you how you should behave when working with other students in pairs or small groups.
• S83: Your teacher makes clear to you what student conduct is unacceptable.
• S84: Your teacher makes clear to you what will happen to students who misbehave. • S7: A lot of students never get recognized for the good work they do.
• S13: Students in my school are expected to treat all of the adults in this school with respect all of the time.
• S15: The rules in this school are very clear.
• S20: Students here get positive recognition when they do well in school.
• S21: Students in my school are expected to treat each other with respect all of the time.
• S30: All students get a chance to be recognized for the good work they do.
• S36: Students get away with a lot in this school.
• S52: All adults in this school treat all students the same when it comes to following the rules. High-Quality Pedagogy
Active
Learning
Strategies
Scale
• S62: Listen to the teacher lecture for more than half the class period
• S63: Work in small groups or pairs
• S64: Work individually on exercises from workbooks, texts, or handouts for more than half the period
• S65: Participate in discussions that students lead
• S66: Discuss and ask each other questions about the work you’re doing
• S67: Choose your own topics or problems to study
• S68: Write essays, themes, poetry, or stories (solve math problems at the board) • S69: Use “real-life” situations in the work you are doing in class
• S70: Write up projects you’ve done in class
(continued) 36
Construct Survey Items
Active
Learning
Strategies
Scale
(continued)
• S71: Work on projects that last several class periods
• S72: Work on projects you help design
Student-toStudent
Interactions
Scale
• S91: Students help each other learn.
• S92: Students go over and discuss each other’s work.
• S94: Individual students speak about their work in front of the class.
• S95: When students present their work to the class, other students ask questions and give feedback.
• S98: Students review what they’ve learned with one another.
Making
Connections and Extensions
Scale
• S58: Learning to find more than one way of approaching a problem or issue
• S59: Learning about the various sources of information that can be used for completing assignments and projects
• S60: Making connections between what goes on inside and outside of school • S61: Making connections between what’s covered in your English/Math class and what’s covered in other classes 37
References
Abu-Hilal, Maher M. 2000. “A Structural Model for Predicting Mathematics Achievement: Its Relation with Anxiety and Self Concept in Mathematics.” Psychological Reports, 86: 835-847.
Atkinson, John William. 1964. An Introduction to Motivation. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.
Baker, Jean A. 1999. “Teacher-Student Interaction in Urban At-Risk Classrooms: Differential Behavior, Relationship Quality, and Student Satisfaction with School.” The Elementary School
Journal, 100: 57-70.
Baker, Jean A., Tara Terry, Robert Bridger, and Anne Winsor. 1997. “Schools as Caring Communities: A Relational Approach to School Reform.” School Psychology Review, 26: 586-602.
Bandalos, Deborah L., Kristin Yates, and Tracy Thorndike-Christ. 1995. “Effects of Math SelfConcept, Perceived Self-Efficacy, and Attributions for Failure and Success on Test Anxiety.”
Journal of Educational Psychology, 87: 611-623.
Battistich, Victor, Daniel Solomon, Dong-il Kim, Marilyn Watson, and Eric Schaps. 1995. “Schools as Communities, Poverty Levels of Student Populations, and Students’ Attitudes, Motives, and
Performance: A Multilevel Analysis.” American Educational Research Journal, 32: 627-658.
Bryk, Anthony S., and Mary E. Driscoll. 1988. The High School as Community: Contextual Influences and Consequences for Students and Teachers. National Center on Effective Secondary
Schools. Madison: University of Wisconsin.
Bryk, Anthony S., Valerie E. Lee, and Peter B. Holland. 1993. Catholic Schools and the Common
Good. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Cohen, Elizabeth G. 1994. Designing Group Work: Strategies for Heterogeneous Classrooms, 2nd edition. New York: Teachers College Press.
Connell, James P., and James G. Wellborn. 1991. “Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness: A
Motivational Analysis of Self-System Processes.” Pages 43-77 in Megan R. Gunnar and L.
Alan Sroufe (eds.), Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology, Vol. 23. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Covington, Martin V., Michael F. Spratt, and Carol L. Omelich. 1980. “Is Effort Enough, or Does
Diligence Count Too? Student and Teacher Reactions to Effort Stability in Failure.” Journal of
Educational Psychology, 72, 6: 717-729.
Davidson, Ann Locke. 1999. “Negotiating Social Differences: Youths’ Assessments of Educators’
Strategies.” Urban Education, 34: 338-369.
Dowson, Martin, and Dennis M. McInerney. 2001. “Psychological Parameters of Students’ Social and Work Avoidance Goals: A Qualitative Investigation.” Journal of Educational Psychology,
93, 1: 35-42. 38
Eccles, Jacquelynne S., Terry F. Adler, Robert Futterman, Susan B. Goff, Caroline M. Kaczala, Judith L. Meece, and Carol Midgley. 1983. “Expectancies, Values, and Academic Behavior.”
Pages 75-146 in Janet Taylor Spence (ed.), Achievement and Achievement Motives: Psychological and Sociological Approaches. San Francisco: Freeman.
Evans, Linda. 1997. “Understanding Teacher Morale and Job Satisfaction.” Teaching and Teacher
Education, 13: 831-845.
Gambone, Michelle Alberti, Adena M. Klem, Jean Ann Summers, Theresa A. Akey, and Cynthia L.
Sipe. 2004. Turning the Tide: The Achievements of the First Things First Education Reform in the
Kansas City, Kansas, Public School District. Philadelphia: Youth Development Strategies, Inc.
Guthrie, John T., and Allan Wigfield. 2000. “Engagement and Motivation in Reading.” Pages 403-
424 in Michael L. Kamil, Peter B. Mosenthal, P. David Pearson, and Rebecca Barr (eds.),
Handbook of Reading Research, Volume III. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Hancock, Vicki, and Frank Betts. 2002. “Back to the Future: Preparing Learners for Academic Success in 2004.” Learning & Leading with Technology, 29, 7: 10-13, 27.
Harter, Susan. 1992. “The Relationship Between Perceived Competence, Affect, and Motivational
Orientation Within the Classroom: Process and Patterns of Change.” Pages 77-114 in Ann K.
Boggiano and Thane S. Pittman (eds.), Achievement and Motivation: A Social-Developmental
Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hembree, Ray. 1988. “Correlates, Causes, Effects, and Treatment of Test Anxiety.” Review of Educational Research, 58: 47-77.
Johnson, Monica Kirkpatrick, Robert Crosnoe, and Glen H. Elder, Jr. 2001. “Student Attachment and
Academic Engagement: The Role of Race and Ethnicity.” Sociology of Education 74: 318-40.
Johnson, David W., and Roger T. Johnson. 1985. “Motivational Process in Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning Situations.” Pages 249-286 in Carole Ames and Russell
Ames (eds.), Research on Motivation in Education, Volume II: The Classroom Milieu. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Kane, Thomas. 2004. “The Impact of After-School Programs: Interpreting the Results of Four Recent Evaluations.” New York: William T. Grant Foundation.
Kirsch, Irwin, John de Jong, Dominique Lafontaine, Joy McQueen, Juliette Mendelovits, and Christian Monseur. 2002. Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement Across Countries,
Results from PISA 2000. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Lambert, Nadine, and Barbara L. McCombs (eds.). 1998. How Students Learn: Reforming Schools
Through Learner-Centered Education. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Lee, Valerie E., Anthony S. Bryk, and Julia B. Smith. 1993. “The Organization of Effective Secondary Schools.” Review of Research in Education, 19: 171-268. 39
Lee, Valerie E., and Julia B. Smith. 1999. “Social Support and Achievement for Young Adolescents in Chicago: The Role of School Academic Press.” American Educational Research Journal,
36: 907-945.
Lumsden, Linda S. 1994. Student Motivation to Learn (ERIC Digest No. 92). ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 370 200. Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management.
Marks, Helen M. 2000. “Student Engagement in Instructional Activity: Patterns in the Elementary,
Middle, and High School Years.” American Educational Research Journal, 37, 1: 153-184.
McLaughlin, Milbrey W., and Joan E. Talbert. 1993. Contexts That Matter for Teaching and Learning. Stanford, CA: Center for Research on the Context of Secondary School Teaching, Stanford
University.
Meece, Judith L. 1991. “The Classroom Context and Students’ Motivational Goals.” Pages 261-285 in Martin L. Maehr and Paul R. Pintrich (eds.), Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 7. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Mitchell, Mathew. 1993. “Situational Interest: Its Multifaceted Structure in the Secondary School
Mathematics Classroom.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 85: 424-436.
National Research Council. 1999. “How Children Learn.” Pages 67-101 in John Bransford, Ann L.
Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking (eds.), Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School.
Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Research Council. 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Expanded Edition. John Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking (eds.), Committee on
Developments in the Science of Learning, Committee on Learning Research and Educational
Practice, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Research Council. 2003. Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students’ Motivation to
Learn. Committee on Increasing High School Students’ Engagement and Motivation to Learn,
National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Newmann, Fred M. 1992. Student Engagement and Achievement in American Secondary Schools.
New York: Teachers College Press.
Newman, Richard Stuart, and L. Goldin. 1990. “Children’s Reluctance to Seek Help with School
Work.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 82: 92-100.
Newmann, Fred M., Gary Wehlage, and Susie D. Lamborn. 1992. “The Significance and Sources of
Student Engagement.” Pages 11-39 in Fred M. Newmann (ed.), Student Engagement and
Achievement in American Secondary Schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
Phillips, Meredith. 1997. “What Makes Schools Effective? A Comparison of the Relationships of
Communitarian Climate and Academic Climate to Mathematics Achievement and Attendance
During Middle School.” American Educational Research Journal, 34, 4: 633-662. 40
Ryan, Alison, and Paul R. Pintrich. 1997. “Should I Ask for Help?” The Role of Motivation and
Attitudes in Adolescents’ Help Seeking in Math Class.” Journal of Educational Psychology,
89, 329-341.
Ryan, Richard M., and Edward L. Deci. 2000. “Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of
Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being.” American Psychologist, 55: 68-78.
Sedlak, Michael W., Christopher W. Wheeler, Diana C. Pullin, and Philip A. Cusick. 1986. Selling
Students Short: Classroom Bargains and Academic Reform in the American High School. New
York: Teachers College Press.
Shouse, Roger. 1996. “Academic Press and Sense of Community: Conflict and Congruence in
American High Schools.” Pages 173-202 in Aaron M. Pallas (ed.), Research in Sociology of
Education and Socialization, Volume II. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Skinner, Ellen A., and M.J. Belmont. 1993. “Motivation in the Classroom: Reciprocal Effects of
Teacher Behavior and Student Engagement Across the School Year.” Journal of Educational
Psychology, 85: 571-581.
Skinner, Ellen A., James G. Wellborn, and James P. Connell. 1990. “What It Takes to Do Well in
School and Whether I’ve Got It: A Process Model of Perceived Control and Children’s Engagement and Achievement in School.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 82: 22-32.
Skinner, Ellen A., Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck, and James P. Connell. 1998. “Individual Differences and the Development of Perceived Control.” Monographs of the Society for Research in Child
Development 63, 2-3: 1-220.
Smerdon, Becky A. 1999. “Engagement and Achievement: Differences Between African-American and White High School Students.” Research in the Sociology of Education and Socialization,
12: 103-134.
Steinberg, Laurence, with B. Bradford Brown and Sanford M. Dornbusch. 1996. Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need to Do. New York: Simon and
Schuster.
Turner, Julianne C., Pamela K. Thorpe, and Debra K. Meyer. 1998. “Students’ Reports of Motivation and Negative Affect: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 90: 758-771.
Wasley, Patricia A., Michelle Fine, Matt Gladden, Nicole E. Holland, Sherry P. King, Esther Mosak, and Linda C. Powell. 2000. Small Schools, Great Strides: A Study of New Small Schools in
Chicago. New York: Bank Street College of Education.
Wigfield, Allan, and Rena D. Harold. 1992. “Teacher Benefits and Children’s Achievement SelfPerceptions: A Developmental Perspective.” Pages 95-121 in Dale H. Schunk and Judith L.
Meece (eds.), Student Perceptions in the Classroom. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Willms, J. Douglas (ed.). 2002. Vulnerable Children. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press.
Yowell, Constance M. 1999. “The Role of the Future in Meeting the Challenge of Latino School
Dropouts.” Educational Foundations, 13: 5-28. About MDRC
MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve the well-being of low-income people. Through its research and the active communication of its findings, MDRC seeks to enhance the effectiveness of social and education policies and programs.
Founded in 1974 and located in New York City and Oakland, California, MDRC is best known for mounting rigorous, large-scale, real-world tests of new and existing policies and programs. Its projects are a mix of demonstrations (field tests of promising new program approaches) and evaluations of ongoing government and community initiatives.
MDRC’s staff bring an unusual combination of research and organizational experience to their work, providing expertise on the latest in qualitative and quantitative methods and on program design, development, implementation, and management. MDRC seeks to learn not just whether a program is effective but also how and why the program’s effects occur. In addition, it tries to place each project’s findings in the broader context of related research — in order to build knowledge about what works across the social and education policy fields. MDRC’s findings, lessons, and best practices are proactively shared with a broad audience in the policy and practitioner community as well as with the general public and the media.
Over the years, MDRC has brought its unique approach to an ever-growing range of policy areas and target populations. Once known primarily for evaluations of state welfareto-work programs, today MDRC is also studying public school reforms, employment programs for ex-offenders and people with disabilities, and programs to help low-income students succeed in college. MDRC’s projects are organized into five areas:
• Promoting Family Well-Being and Child Development
• Improving Public Education
• Promoting Successful Transitions to Adulthood
• Supporting Low-Wage Workers and Communities
• Overcoming Barriers to Employment
Working in almost every state, all of the nation’s largest cities, and Canada and the
United Kingdom, MDRC conducts its projects in partnership with national, state, and local governments, public school systems, community organizations, and numerous private philanthropies.

"We know from our past research that college students who are regular text users habitually engage in text messaging during class lectures," said the study's principal author, Fang-Yi Flora Wei, Ph.D., assistant professor of broadcast communications at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. "Now we see that in-class texting partially interferes with a student's ability to pay attention, which prior studies show is necessary for effective cognitive learning."
In the new study, University of Pittsburgh-Bradford students who were enrolled in selected undergraduate general education classes completed an anonymous questionnaire at the end of the semester. The questionnaire asked about the class that they attended immediately before their general education class. Students reported how many text messages they sent or received during the class, on average.
Participants also rated themselves on specific learning variables regarding their class. These variables included self-regulation, which Wei defined as "self-control in directing one's learning process"; sustained attention; and outcomes of cognitive learning -- both self-reported grades and the perceived amount learned.
Because it is difficult to demonstrate that texting alone can have a direct impact on students' cognitive learning, Wei said, she and her co-investigators used path model analysis to describe the relationships between texting, as a "mediator" or intervening variable, and cognitive learning.
Among 190 completed questionnaires from students who attended a lecture-based class lasting 50 or 75 minutes, the average number of text messages students viewed in class was 2.6, Wei's team reported. Students sent, on average, 2.4 texts while in class. The researchers found no difference between the two class lengths in the extent of texting or students' sustained attention to classroom learning.
They did find a direct positive relationship between self-regulation and sustained attention, with students who possessed a high level of self-regulation being more likely to keep their attention focused on classroom learning. In turn, sustained attention to classroom education was positively related to improved cognitive learning, in terms of better grades and especially the perceived amount of learning, the authors reported.
These highly self-regulated students were less likely to text message in class than students with lower levels of self-regulation, Wei said.
On the other hand, students who frequently texted during class were less likely to sustain attention to their instructor. The results suggest that texting diverts students' focus from the main learning task, the authors write in their article.
"College students may believe that they are capable of performing multitasking behaviors during their classroom learning, such as listening to the lecture and texting simultaneously," Wei said. "But the real concern is not whether students can learn under a multitasking condition, but how well they can learn if they cannot sustain their full attention on classroom instruction."
Students should consider limiting their texting during class, Wei suggests. She said she does not think that university bans on texting during class would be as effective as instructors using interactive instructional techniques or other strategies to keep students' attention.
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford does not have a policy banning mobile phones during class, according to the authors.
The article, "Rethinking College Students' Self-Regulation and Sustained Attention: Does Text Messaging During Class Influence Cognitive Learning," will appear in the July 2012 print issue of the Communication Education. Co-authors are Y. Ken Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of management and education, and Michael Klausner, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, both at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

College students who frequently text message during class have difficulty staying attentive to classroom lectures and consequently risk having poor learning outcomes, finds a new study accepted for publication in the National Communication Association's journal Communication Education.

Dealing with Troublesome Behaviors in the Classroom
Mary Deane Sorcinelli
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
There is increasing concern – both nationally and among individual faculty members – about student behavior that is, at the least troublesome, and at the most, disruptive. A recent report on student conduct by the American Council on
Education and by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1990) concluded that the quality of campus has diminished over the last several years. This study, “Campus Life:
In Search of Community,” identified not only broad social problems among students (e.g., racism, sexism, crime) but also an “alarming lack of civility and consideration” toward other students and toward faculty members. The report recommended more participation by students and faculty members in campus life and the creation of a “campus compact” that would spell out broad principles, values, and expectations that promote respect for others.
Unfortunately, an erosion of the sense of community at many institutions appears to have intruded into the college classroom. Recent interview studies of new and junior faculty members report that a surprising number of newcomers described distressing experiences with classroom misbehavior (Boice, 1992,
Sorcinelli & Austin, 1992). Although offenders were few, they could change the whole environment in a class. Their behavior, be it coming late, leaving early, or talking out loud eventually became disruptive, directing the attention of the teaching and other students away from the topic at hand.
In a series of workshops requests by faculty members on my own and other campuses, junior and senior professors and instructional and faculty developers reported similar concerns about classroom incivility (Sorcinelli, 1990a,
1990b). For some of these instructors, the worst experiences in teaching concerned a few disruptive students that one professor described as “classroom terrorists.”
In this chapter, I hope to offer both some preventive measures and some practical advice for dealing with the kinds of troublesome situations that commonly arise. In this chapter, I first identify behaviors that instructors report as most troublesome. I then suggest specific ways in which college teachers can promote a constructive classroom environment that will discourage such behaviors. No matter how careful teachers are, however, they will still run into some disruptive behaviors in the classroom.
A few recurrent misbehaviors – and ways to work with them – will be discussed.
Categories of Troublesome
Behaviors
What kinds of student behaviors do instructors perceive as most negatively affecting the teaching and learning process? In an interview study of professors at a liberal-arts college, Appleby (1990) found considerable consensus among faculty members about student behaviors that they regarded as most irritating. Behaviors were sorted into three categories: (1) immature behaviors such as talking during lectures, chewing gum, eating or drinking noisily, being late, and creating disturbances; (2) inattentive behaviors such as sleeping during class, cutting class, acting bored or apathetic, not paying attention, being unprepared, packing books and materials before class is over; and (3) miscellaneous behaviors such as cheating, asking
“Will it be on the test?” and expressing more interest in grades than in learning.
Despite the fact that students do not always behave in class as instructors would want them to, instructors are reluctant to confront them.
Weimer (1988) and Rutherford (1991) have suggested several reasons. First, because student offenses in the classroom tend not to be egregious, instructors are hesitant to challenge them. They ask themselves whether it might be better to ignore the behavior rather than to make a scene. Also, instructors hesitate to deal with misbehaviors because they somehow feel they are in blame, that the behavior points to some deficiency in their teaching. Finally, instructorshesitate to deal with disruptions because they are truly unsure of what do.
Instructors can be sure of two things. First, they need to do something. The longer inappropriate behavior continues, the more acceptable it becomes and the more difficult it is to stop it.
Second, it is easier to prevent disruptive behaviors than it is to deal with them after the fact. Establishing a positive climate in the classroom, for example, can avert many problems.
Creating a Constructive Classroom
Environment
This section discusses four groups of specific strategies that college teachers can use to guide their efforts in creating a constructive classroom environment: (1) defining expectations for student behavior at the outset, (2) decreasing anonymity by forming personal relationships with students, (3) seeking feedback from students, and (4) encouraging active learning. Some of these strategies are discussed elsewhere (Eble,
1988, Erickson & Strommer, 1991, Lowman, 1984;
Sorcinelli, 1990a).
Define Expectations at the Outset
The importance of defining a class at the outset cannot be overstated. A carefully planned first class meeting, a clear syllabus, and simply relating to students on a personal basis can help to establish a good atmosphere and spare an instructor many problems that may arise from student uncertainty or confusion about guidelines for classroom behavior.
Make good use of the first class. The first class meeting offers an ideal opportunity both for welcoming students and for communicating expectations for classroom conventions, such as arriving, leaving, and talking in class. The challenge lies in establishing both a pleasant atmosphere and a code of conduct. One of the professors on my campus, a scientist who routinely teaches a lecture course with five hundred students, starts each first class by acknowledging the worries that go with beginning a course in the sciences, by discussing the constraints and the benefits of a large class, and by encouraging students to get to know him
(e.g., bringing in topical articles from the local and campus paper, stopping by his desk before or after class). At the same time the professor conveys to students the notion that they have certain responsibilities. He explicitly states expectations for behavior, asserting that – especially because the class is large – inattendance, tardiness, idle chatter, and cheating can only serve to break down the respect between teacher and students. Another colleague, this one in a professional school, videotapes her first class meeting so that students who are still completing their schedules or waiting in line for a parking sticker will not miss the setting of both tone and conduct.
Use the course syllabus to reinforce expectations. A clear, informative syllabus can reduce student confusion about appropriate behavior. It is important that teachers describe, in a positive manner, what they anticipate and would like to see in terms of classroom behavior. It is equally important that they outline with candor, what they dislike. Put simply, the syllabus should indicate whatever rules are deemed necessary for the course to run smoothly. For example, in order to anticipate the common problems of late assignments or missed classes and quizzes, teachers should state policies governing these matters. To make clear their positions on students who arrive late or pack up early to leave, teachers should put into writing when and how the class will start and conclude. Explaining the rationale for setting such policies will make the policies seem less arbitrary and stern and will allow students to ask questions about classroom mechanisms so that all are starting out with the same assumptions.
Let students participate in setting classroom rules. Class atmosphere can be enhanced significantly when the instructor is willing to entertain reasonable suggestions and objections. Leaving some classroom policies open for students to decide or giving students some choices within prescribed limits is likely to be appreciated. For example, an instructor might tell students he cannot tolerate talking during his lectures, but can live with students drinking a Coke or munching on a candy bar. Other possibilities for choice might include whether to drop the lowest quiz score, how much work to assign over vacation breaks, or how many chapters in the text to cover for a given test.Decrease Anonymity
A highly effective strategy for promoting positive behavior involves reducing student anonymity.
Large classes, of course, present more challenges than do smaller, more personal classes.
Nonetheless, the following are practical ways to foster personal relationships with students and decrease their sense of anonymity.
Learn students’ names. Lowman (1984) has asserted that “the easiest way to begin forming personal relationships with students is to learn their names.” (p. 47). He has argued that learning each student’s name is effective in promoting rapport because it begins personal contact immediately but does not seem forced or intrusive.
There are a number of name-learning strategies that have proved successful for instructors.
Using a seating chart for the first few weeks can be helpful. This way, not only will a teacher learn students’ names but the students will also learn each other’s. Eble (1988) and Lowman
(1984), however, have found the seating chart too mechanical and impersonal and have offered at least two alternatives. One is to practice names assiduously at the start of a course and to use mnemonic devices such as placing students in a context and setting up associations. The other method is to strengthen physical association by acquaintance with students’ work. For example,
Eble has suggested that if a teacher gives frequent written assignments or quizzes, if he pays attention to names and faces when he returns papers in class, and if he asks students to discuss their work, he will tend to remember their names. Learn something about students. Another way to connect with students on a personal basis is to administer an open-ended questionnaire on the first day of class. Some teachers pass out index cards and ask students about such things as why they are taking the course, what attitudes they have toward the subject, and any distinguishing interests or experiences they might want to share.
Some instructors also help students to meet and establish connections with other students by asking them to share their answers in groups of two or three before handing them in.
Find ways to meet individually with students. While announced office hours may signal an instructor’s accessibility to students, many students are reluctant to use them. An alternative way to encourage personal contact with students is to come to class early. This allows the teacher to “work the aisles,” chatting informally with students and eliciting their concerns. Similarly, staying awhile after class allows students to follow-up with a question or idea that they might have been reticent to bring up in class. Several faculty members on our campus find it helpful to schedule their office hours right after class. In that way, students who approach them after class have a chance to accompany the teachers to their offices to continue discussion.
Seek Feedback from Students
Asking students for help in determining what is working and what merits some attention is useful in encouraging communication and establishing a responsive tone.
Find out how the class is going. One effective technique for encouraging students to communicate is to administer an informal course evaluation early in the semester (e.g., the third week of class). Teachers should ask students what they like about the course, what they don’t like, what seems to work and what doesn’t, what they would like to see done differently, or any combination of the above. Lowman (1984) suggested that the instructor write personal notes in the reply, thus completing the communication circle and strengthening the personal relationship. Similarly, Cross and Angelo (1988) have recommended “One-Minute Papers” as a quick and effective way to collect written feedback about a course or a specific class session, particularly in large lecture classes. Here, the instructor asks students to write a brief answer to the following two questions: “What was the most important thing you learned in today’s class?”
“What question or questions that you have from today’s class remain unanswered?” Both techniques provide valuable self-correcting feedback and, by demonstrating respect for and interest in student reactions, encourage positive engagement in the teaching and learning process.Encourage Active Learning
Studies on active learning suggest that methods such as student-centered discussions and cooperative-learning groups develop committed and positive relationships among class members.
Students describe feeling more responsible for preparing and coming to class, for paying attention during class, and for taking active responsibility for their own learning (Sorcinelli,
1991).
Descriptions of such active-learning methods as cooperative-learning groups, small-group discussion, case study, role-playing, and writingto-learn are detailed elsewhere (Erickson &
Strommer, 1991, McKeachie, 1986). Some general suggestions for teachers are as follows:
1. Encourage active learning by giving short inclass writing exercises to stimulate thought on specific issues and to get more people involved. Prompt students to talk about their ideas by directing questions to them individually or as a group. After discussion, collect written work and evaluate it with a check, check plus, or minus.
2 . Small group discussions also work well.
Break students into groups of two, three, or up to about five to discuss questions, accomplish specific tasks, or share in-class writing. Reconvene as a class and solicit responses from individual groups.
3. To increase preparedness for the next class, assign questions from reading or lectures to be discussed at the next session. Make students accountable and foster involvement by having them write their responses prior to class, perhaps in preparation for group work.
4 . During the last ten minutes of class, administer short quizzes that cover the four or five most important points that you have covered. These need only be evaluated with a check, check plus, or minus.
Dealing with Troublesome
Behaviors in the Classroom
Clearly, prevention is to be preferred to confrontation. Defining a class at the outset, decreasing student anonymity, seeking feedback from students, and encouraging active learning are preventive measures that allow instructors to work smoothly with students and to create an atmosphere that is conducive to positive, respectful attitudes. However, instructors may still run into some students or classes that present problems. In this section, I offer some practical advice for dealing with such situations. All of the suggestions given here address the immature and inattentive behaviors that faculty members report as most troublesome (Appleby, 1990). Some of the recommendations are adapted from Weimer
(1988) and Sorcinelli (1990a). They include strategies for handling (1) talking and inattention,
(2) unpreparedness and missed deadlines, (3) lateness and inattendance, and (4) direct challenges to authority.
Talking and Inattention
Usually the best time to handle a problem is when it occurs.
1 . If students are chatting, make direct eye contact with them so that they know you see them. Sometimes stopping the lecture, looking directly at the students, and resuming the lecture when talking stops is enough to resolve the problem.
2. Direct a question to someone right next to the students. That focuses attention to that area of the class but avoids confrontations or putting anybody on the spot.
3. Physically move toward that part of the room, again making eye contact with the students.
4. As mentioned earlier, break the class into mini discussion groups or in some other way vary the method of presenting or processing the material.
5. Speak to the student or students privately after class or before the next session. Tell students who talk in class that their behavior distracts you and the other students, and ask them please to refrain. With chronically inattentive students, try to ascertain the cause.
Unpreparedness and Missed
Deadlines
Make it clear to students that there are logical consequences if they don’t do their homework or if they turn in assignments late.
1. If students are coming to class unprepared, then require evidence of preparation in theform of chapter summaries, homework, writing exercises, but avoid a primitive tone, stance, or attitude.
2. Consider requests, short assignments (e.g., a list, an outline, a paragraph, a solution to a problem) to help students keep up with their work and study productivity. To ease the burden of grading, scan the assignments, evaluate them with a check or check plus (or minus for no assignment), and figure them toward the total grade.
3. If the policy is not to accept late papers, then don’t accept them, except under the most extraordinary circumstances – and then in private. Always document the rationale for a change in policy should your decision be challenged by a third party.
4. Regularly meet deadlines. If you say tests will be graded and returned Friday, then get them back on Friday.
Lateness and Inattendance
Ideally, students should not skip classes or miss half of each one. However, some do. Again, the notion of reducing lateness and inattendance by taking preventive steps makes sense.
1 . Establish an understanding with students: you expect them to come to class on time; in return you will start and finish as scheduled.
2. In large lecture classes in particular, establish a starting ritual: moving to the podium, dimming the lights, reading a notable quotation or passage – whatever suits your teaching style.
3 . Many instructors leave the question of attendance up the individual students. If you require attendance, be sure to have a system for reliably recording it and a policy to follow up on those who are absent. Some instructors make attendance or participation worth a specific percentage of the final grade.
4. If you feel that a student’s absences are excessive and are jeopardizing academic performance, call or submit a letter to the student’s advisor, dean of the student’s college, or the dean of student’s office and discuss it with the student.
5. If a large percentage of students don’t come to class, consider the possibility that they do not find sessions useful. Make sure not only that the material covered in class is vital to students’ mastery of the subject and their performance on tests and papers but also that students understand the connection, too. On the day you give a test (attendance should be high), ask students to write on a piece of paper the reasons why they are not attending classes regularly.
Challenges to Authority
At some point in their career, most teachers will have to face a student who is resentful, hostile, or challenging. The following are a few suggestions for gaining the cooperation of an oppositional student.
1 . Don’t become defensive and take a confrontation personally. Respond honestly to challenges, explaining – not defending – your instructional objectives and how assignments and exercises contribute to them.
Although the purpose of class activities and lectures may be obvious to you, students often need to have these objectives made explicit. 2. As a rule of thumb, avoid arguments with students in class. If a student continues to press, table the discussion until later and then continue it with the student privately. Listen carefully, openly, and calmly to the grievance.
Sometimes the opportunity to express a felt grievance may be more important to a student than is a resolution.
3. When talking to a disruptive student, tell the student that you value his or her good contributions, but point out how the behavior that he or she is engaging in negatively affects you when you are teaching.
Try to enlist the student’s cooperation in setting ground rules for acceptable behavior.
4. Be honest when something doesn’t work as you had planned. Students respond positively when they see that you truly have their best interest in mind and aren’t just making things difficult in order to save face.
5. On the rare occasion that a student is hostile or threatening, contact the ombudsman’s or the dean of student’s office. Most campuses have disciplinary procedures that protect faculty as well as students.Conclusion
Dealing with troublesome behavior in the classroom is one of the most challenging aspects of being a professor. Although instructors have expertise in their content areas, they often have little training in dealing with the interpersonal dynamics involved in working with students.
And yet instructors want to create an environment of mutual respect, not one rife with adversarial relationships.
The solutions available to instructors include establishing a positive environment in the classroom to deter disruptive behavior and intervening directly (e.g., talking privately, setting limits) to deal with inappropriate conduct.
Perhaps most importantly, instructors need to consider their own behavior as well as that of their students. An honest attempt to understand how instructors’ classroom deportment might contribute to a difficult situation (e.g., arriving late for class, not following the syllabus, presenting unprepared lectures, ignoring students’ suggestions) may help to reduce the number of troublesome behaviors in the classroom. Sorcinelli, M.D. (1994). Dealing with troublesome behaviors in the classroom. In K.W. Prichard &
R.M. Sawyer (Eds). Handbook of college teaching: Theory and applications (pp. 365-373). Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press. Reprinted with permission of
Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. Westport,
CT.
References
American Council on Education and the
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1990). Campus life: In search of community. Washington, DC: Author.
Appleby, D.C. (1990). Faculty and student perceptions of irritating behaviors in the college classroom. Journal of Staff, Program and
Organizational Development, 8 (2), 41-46
Boice, R. (1992). The new faculty member. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cross, K.P. & Angelo, T.A. (1988). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for faculty. Ann
Arbor: University of Michigan. National
Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning
Eble, K. (1988). The craft of teaching. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass
Erickson, B.L. & Strommer. D.W. (1991). Teaching college freshmen. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Lowman, J. (1984). Mastering the techniques of teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
McKeachie, W.J. (1986). Teaching tips: A guide for the beginning college teacher (8 th ed.). Lexington,
MA: Health
Rutherford, L.H. (1991). Trying time: Preventing and handling irksome classroom behavior.
Instructional Development (University of
Minnesota, Duluth Campus). 1-2, 8
Sorcinelli, M.D. (1990a, April). Dealing with troublesome behavior in the classroom. Workshop and unpublished manuscript presented at
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Sorcinelli, M.D. (1990b, November). Dealing with troublesome behavior in the classroom. Paper presented at the meeting of the Professional
Organizational Development Conference,
Tahoe City, CA.
Sorcinelli, M.D. (1991). Research findings on the seven principles. In A.W. Chickering & Z.
Gamson (Eds). Applying the seven principles for good practice to undergraduate education (New
Directions for Teaching and Learning, No.
47) pp. 13-25. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Sorcinelli, M.D., & Austin, A. (Eds). (1992).
Developing new and junior faculty (New
Directions for Teaching and Learning, No.
50). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Weimer, M.E. (1988). Ideas for managing your classroom better. The Teaching Professor, 2(2),
3-4

Cheating in the College Classroom
Learn the truth about cheating on college campuses and what colleges are doing about it.
Print
Cheating on college quizzes, exams, homework and projects is widespread at colleges and universities around the country.
Have college students always been so morally corrupt?
Studies show that cheating has grown significantly during the past 60 years. Twenty percent of college students admitted to cheating to some capacity in high school in the 1940s. Today the percentage of college students who admit to cheating in high school is between 75 and 85.
Before you take the easy route, think about the effects of your actions. You’re investing a substantial amount of money in your education. When you cheat, you are not learning material that could be valuable to your life and career.
How Widespread is Cheating?
Of the 1,800 students at nine separate state universities who were surveyed recently: * 70 percent admitted to cheating on exams * 84 percent admitted to cheating on written assignments * 52 percent had lifted a few sentences from a website without citing the source
Numerous studies have been conducted trying to decipher whether cheating is more common among males or females. The conclusion is that there is almost a balance of cheaters by gender, with males just barely out-cheating females.
Nor is cheating relegated to just four-year colleges. A 2003 report shows that 45.6 percent of community college students reported cheating. Although this is a lower rate than at four-year schools, this may be because students spend a significantly shorter time at community colleges.
Are there certain majors that have been known to cheat over others? Business and engineeringstudents have reported much higher numbers of cheaters than in medicine, law or education.
Why Cheat?
There are several reasons why college students cheat despite knowing it is the wrong thing to do. A major reason is that they see people in the “real world” cheating and getting away with it and feel as though starting to cheat now is just prepping them for what they will have to do to get ahead after graduation. The general consensus is: Why not start now?
Some students blame it on the pressure to get high grades that has increased over the past several decades. Many students no longer to go college to gain knowledge but to get high grades and land jobs in top businesses after graduation.
Consequences for Cheating
Each college has a different honor code, and it is important that you understand yours so that you don’t accidentally get yourself in trouble.
For example, Emory University in Georgia has an honor council comprising 10-20 sophomores and juniors who are left with the decision of determining whether or not students are guilty of cheating. After reviewing the case and finding a person guilty, there are several consequences that may occur: * Verbal reprimand * Written reprimand * F for the course that goes on your permanent transcript * Dismissal * Suspension
At Amherst College, the dean of student conduct investigates any allegations of cheating. If he determines there is cheating, the student may issue a warning, fine, limitations on participation in college life, community service, probation, denial of campus residence or suspension from college.
A study conducted by Young-Jin Lee of the University of Kansas shows that students who copy at a higher rate are three times more likely to fail the course. The bottom line is that doing your assigned homework withing cheating is the best way to ensure success in your exams and projects.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:
Cheating in College
Plagiarism and Intellectual Property
The Rules of Plagiarism in College
College Honor Codes and Disciplinary Action
Cheating Prevention in College
Top Five College Cheating Scandals
Cheating on Standardized Tests…...

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Controlling Teenagers

...Controlling Teenagers Essay In my opinion, neither positive nor negative sanctions are the more effective choices when trying to control the behaviors of teenagers. Although one may be the better choice theoretically, because they are controlling the behavior of a human being, the outcome of using one of the two will vary from instance to another. Human beings are very complex when analyzing the psyche and this factor will cause the outcomes to vary so much. The only way in which I believe that one may be better than the other is when personal lives are taken into consideration. A teenager who does not have many positive aspects of their lives will more than likely respond better to sanctions that reward them for their actions. A negative sanction may occasionally work in this situation but because of all the negative aspects of their lives, the teenager may not be affected by the negative consequence because they have gotten used to the negatives of life. On the other hand, a teenager who has many material objects and rarely is punished will not respond as well to the promise of positive sanctions because they have already learned that life comes easily and they get whatever they want. In this case, a negative sanction will work better because the consequence is the exact opposite of what the teenager is used to. To sum everything up, neither positive nor negative sanctions are better. The better choice changes based on the situation at hand and usually the......

Words: 267 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Being a Teenager

...untuk Bahagian B, 10 minit untuk Bahagian C, 10 minit untuk Bahagian o dan 20 minit untuk Bahagian E. ~ Instructions: 1. The question paper consists of five sections with 40 questions. Answer all questions. You are advised to spend about 10 minutes on Section A, 10 minutes on Section B, 10 minutes on Section C, 10 minutes on Section 0 and 20 minutes on Section E. 2. 3. Kertas soalan ini mengandungi 15 halaman bercetak. [Lihat halaman sebelah SULIT 1211 © 2011 Hak Cipta MPSM Negeri Kedah SULIT 2 1211 j*k Questions 1 - 10 are based on the information given. PETSTAR MAGAZINE RAISES ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS Thank you Petstar Magazine for helping WWF -Malaysia to raise funds for our nature conservation work. I l~ ww 1 A B C WWf Mft LftrSlft ..... Let's Ic:!;;:,ve our children", living planet - The main purpose of this notice is to collect donation for WWF Malaysia promote Petstar Magazine to the public express appreciation to Petstar Magazine raise environmental awareness among people o Le Tour de Langkawi The 16th edition of the Le Tour De Langkawi is an endurance test on two wheels, modelled after the Tour de France. Top international cyclists cross the spectacular and difficult 1001 .Bkm route, from Kota Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, taking place over a week. 2 Which of the following statements is true about Le Tour de Langkawi? A B Le Tour de Langkawi is organised for our national cyclists. The journey from Kota Bahru to......

Words: 4336 - Pages: 18

Premium Essay

Drug and Teenagers

...Drug use is the increasing problem among teenagers in today's high schools. Most drug use begins in the preteen and teenage years, these years most crucial in the maturation process. During these years adolescents are faced with difficult tasks of discovering their self identity, clarifying their sexual roles, assenting independence, learning to cope with authority and searching for goals that would give their lives meaning. Drugs are readily, adolescents are curious and venerable, and there is peer pressure to experiment, ad there us a temptation to escape from conflicts. The use of drugs by teenagers is the result of a combination of factors such as peer pressure, curiosity, and availability. Drugs addiction among adolescents in turn lead to depression and suicide. One of the most important reasons of teenage drug usage is peer pressure. Peer pressure represents social influences that effect adolescents, it can have a positive or a negative effect, depending on person's social group and one can follow one path of the other. We are greatly influenced by the people around us. In today's schools drugs are very common, peer pressure usually is the reason for their usage. If the people in your social group use drugs there will be pressure a direct or indirect pressure from them. A person may be offered to try drugs, which is direct pressure. Indirect pressure is when someone sees everyone around him using drugs and he might think that there is nothing wrong with using drugs.......

Words: 1402 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Bad Habits

...Running Head: Breaking a Bad Habit Breaking a Bad Habit Abstract There are many bad habits that different people have. This essay will show you some steps to help get rid of one. Breaking a Bad Habit Are you trying to break a bad habit? Do you need some help or advice on some ways to break it? Best believe that after reading this essay, you will be able to break that bad habit in no time. There are many habits that are considered to be bad. There are those like: rolling your hair with your fingers; picking skin off your lip; or smacking when you eat. How about we go with the most famous bad habit that so many people do, and that is biting their fingernails. Many people engage in nail-biting, but there are several steps that a person can use to overcome this bad habit. The first step to breaking the bad habit of nail biting is to set a goal. Most people who set goals for their bad habits have something to look forward to when they finally stop. It is one of the best ways to help gain that little push that is needed. Some people feel that if there is......

Words: 749 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Teenager

...Being a teenager is really tough. It's the where you have to deal and cope with the most changes, in your whole life. This transition from childhood to adulthood is smooth for some, but rough for others. The most important thing about being a teenager is responsibility. When you're a teenager, you get blamed for anything wrong you do, get grounded, punished, unlike before when you were a child, and you could get away with murder, and nobody could do anything about it! You can say goodbye to those days now! It's all not so bad about being a teenager though. Now you don't have to have your parents take you to somewhere you want to go, and somewhere you couldn't go before. You can go with friends and have fun, which you couldn't because all of you were too little to know what fun is! You can now go to amusement parks, parties etc. with friends, or even alone. It's a very enjoyable time of life, if you do the right stuff, and put thought into what you are doing. But with all good things, must come the bad. During this age, you are old and hopefully smart enough to understand what is good for you, and make decisions without consulting others. But with that comes risk, and nowadays, fun stuff are usually bad stuff. With the society turning for the bad as days pass, the teens are getting into all sorts of trouble with drugs and alcohol. Thirty years ago, drugs were something that older people never talked about and nor did they ever see. Alcohol was small thing that the good......

Words: 597 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Habit

...THE POWER OF HABIT Duhi_9781400069286_2p_all_r1.j.indd i 10/17/11 12:01 PM Duhi_9781400069286_2p_all_r1.j.indd ii 10/17/11 12:01 PM HABIT W h y We D o W h a t We D o and How to Change It THE POWER OF CHARLES DUHIGG Random House e N e w Yo r k Duhi_9781400069286_2p_all_r1.j.indd iii 10/17/11 12:01 PM This is a work of nonfiction. Nonetheless, some names and personal characteristics of individuals or events have been changed in order to disguise identities. Any resulting resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and unintentional. Copyright © 2012 by Charles Duhigg All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. RANDOM HOUSE and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4000-6928-6 eBook ISBN 978-0-679-60385-6 Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper Illustrations by Anton Ioukhnovets www.atrandom.com 2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3 1 First Edition Book design by Liz Cosgrove Duhi_9781400069286_2p_all_r1.j.indd iv 10/17/11 12:01 PM To Oliver, John Harry, John and Doris, and, everlastingly, to Liz Duhi_9781400069286_2p_all_r1.j.indd v 10/17/11 12:01 PM Duhi_9781400069286_2p_all_r1.j.indd vi 10/17/11 12:01 PM CONTENTS PROLOGUE The Habit Cure GGG xi PA R T O N E The Habits of Individuals 1. THE HABIT LOOP How Habits Work 3 31 60 2.......

Words: 124310 - Pages: 498

Free Essay

Effective Study Habits Work Sheet

...University of Phoenix Material Effective Study Habits Worksheet Review Phoenix Career Plan results of Career Plan Building Activity: Work Culture Preference, respond to the following in 50 to 100 words each: 1. Describe your ideal study environment. My ideal study environment is a quiet room maybe some music going and not to be interrupted while doing my school work. A place to work with a nice computer desk for my school work zone with a dead bolt on the door so I really don’t have to be bothered while doing my studying. 2. List some of the distractions that might hinder your study progress or your performance in an online classroom. The two biggest things that might hinder my study progress or my performance in an online classroom is my step daughter’s and my cell phone I know it’s my schooling but I can’t seem to turn off my cell or not talk to my step daughter’s they are just too cute. 3. What actions can you take to manage and eliminate distractions? The actions that I can take to manage and eliminate distractions are to turn off my cell phone and tell people that it is my study time and to tell my step daughter’s that I have to study and we can always play in a little while when I get done . 4. How will you apply your personal learning style? How does your personal Learning style affect your study habits? I will apply my personal learning style by talking in groups making flash cards interviewing outside sources and by......

Words: 649 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Study Habit

...developed and practice then effectively to achieve. Sometimes study habits used in high school do not work for college students. A good study habit composed of: time management, self-discipline, organization, motivation, concentration and effort. Study habit is the way on how you study from your prep years until today. Study habits can be effective one or not effective one. Excellent study habit includes having hard copy of lectures/discussions, advance reading on the lessons to be discussed for the following days, listening attentively in class while the teacher is having lecture on the subject matter and proper grouping of things and all belongings for school so that it will make you easier to access on your things in school or even at home when doing your homework, bring home seatwork, quizzes, activities, project and other school requirements. Having notes is a good way to practice, keeping notes of all the important discussion on the lesson discussed and listening is a good practice of a disciplined and responsible student. Many different factors affect the study habits of students. The ability to study and concentrate can do increased by finding a quiet place where you can concentrate. Distractions such as phones, chat rooms, IM and text messaging, TV, video games, and computers can call decrease your ability to learn. Whatever is going on around you and inside your own mind is going to affect your study habit. Determinants of student’s performances have been the......

Words: 903 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

A Life of a Teenager

...A Life of a Teenager I would of never thought that my early childhood into late childhood be the way that it was and me turning out to be Ok. I made many dreams of going to school to make something of myself, like being a model and a lawyer, but the way we plan our future doesn’t always work that way. In this paper I will tell you a little more about myself and how I became the strong women I am today. My life growing up was a tough path to travel. Learning and developing adulthood in my childhood was very tough. Although I think of my family as a little dysfunctional I do remember some good times. I remember when I was in the 4th grade (about 9 years old) we lived in West Virginia about 20 min from my grandparents. Every weekend we would go there to have lunch or just to see if my grandparents would need us to do anything for them. On Sunday’s we would all go to church with them, my grandparent are faithful church goers, after church we would meet at my grandparents house to fix a big lunch. Some friends of the family would join us; the kids would play in the yard. I can remember many of the weekends, I would stay to help them, mainly because I didn’t want to home. I remember, one summer we all help build an apartment over their garage for my great grandmother, because she no longer could live by herself. My parents, I mean my mother and step father, was there that weekend to help with the apartment. Around this time in......

Words: 2686 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay

A Crippled Teenager

...A Crippled Teenager It is not a pleasing thing to be a crippled teenager. Adolescence is hard enough in normal circumstances, but when you add on other struggles it becomes a whole other world. It was as if a cow came falling from heaven and landed smack on top of me. One minute I was running, catching, and having a great game, and the next minute I had doctors looking all over me. Football was an expected sport for most boys in the town I grew up in, and if you played well, you were indestructible, or so we thought. During my eighth grade year, I was having a wonderful game and I too thought I was capable of anything. It was a high pass that required a massive leap into the air. The pass was caught, but I hadn’t thought about my landing yet. But oh, I would be fine; I always was, until this landing. I came down on my arm as though it would have still broken had it been made of steel. The popping of the bone alone was enough to turn your stomach. That unfortunate day changed life as I had known it for a while. Yes my voice still squeaked, and my hormones ran strong, but for the most part my days never changed. The thought of being able to move any part of my right arm had left my thought process for the time being. It was the most awful thing a thirteen-year-old boy could possibly imagine. I could not write, I could not eat, and as for taking a normal shower I had no hope. I felt like a helpless baby left to die. Life around the house was not so...

Words: 904 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

The Teenager

...The Teenager Clarissa is a 16 year old, confidant, proud, empathetic, teenager, who enjoys the companionship of friends and has no worries. She comes from a very traditional family, who lived the simple quiet life, where nothing ever went wrong, she never heard arguments, or fights. She lived in a peaceful home and her parents lead her through the Christian lifestyle. At the age of 11 she was diagnosed with Leukemia. It was a big shock to her and her family. She began to go through extensive therapies and radiation treatments, it put her family through so much turmoil, stress, and financial binds and she quickly seen how her parent’s beliefs disappeared. She then questioned, why? “Why is this happening to me and why did you choose me and my family to go through this pain?” Her parents quit going to church and they had no time to gather as a family anymore. Everyone was going every which way. “Not only was I falling apart, my family is falling apart!” “I lost total faith in everything I ever believed in.” Her mother tried her best to keep things together, but all Clarissa saw was hurt, pain, and suffering. She became blaming herself for all the pain and heartache she felt she caused her parents. After 2 years of hospital visits and doctors there was finally a breakthrough. She became strong and accepted the fact she had and illness and became optimistic. She then noticed that whatever vibe she put off rubbed off on her parents, who then became positive and......

Words: 441 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Crippled Teenager

...A Crippled Teenager It is not a pleasing thing to be a crippled teenager. Adolescence is hard enough in normal circumstances, but when you add on other struggles it becomes a whole other world. It was as if a cow came falling from heaven and landed smack on top of me. One minute I was running, catching, and having a great game, and the next minute I had doctors looking all over me. Football was an expected sport for most boys in the town I grew up in, and if you played well, you were indestructible, or so we thought. During my eighth grade year, I was having a wonderful game and I too thought I was capable of anything. It was a high pass that required a massive leap into the air. The pass was caught, but I hadn’t thought about my landing yet. But oh, I would be fine; I always was, until this landing. I came down on my arm as though it would have still broken had it been made of steel. The popping of the bone alone was enough to turn your stomach. That unfortunate day changed life as I had known it for a while. Yes my voice still squeaked, and my hormones ran strong, but for the most part my days never changed. The thought of being able to move any part of my right arm had left my thought process for the time being. It was the most awful thing a thirteen-year-old boy could possibly imagine. I could not write, I could not eat, and as for taking a normal shower I had no hope. I felt like a helpless baby left to die. Life around the house was not so...

Words: 903 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Reading Habit

...The Reading Habit 9 by Frankie Y. Bailey   We humans are creatures of habit. Change, real change, does not come easily for most of us. We prefer to get into our comfortable groove and stay there. Change often requires an epiphany, a life-altering insight, that most of us rarely, if ever, experience. Perhaps this is why the more cynical among us would doubt that simply picking up a book could change a life.   Like many avid readers, I have had the experience of falling in love with a book. But, I confess here, I have not been faithful to my loves. After the first delight of discovery, I have strayed in search of other books that would engage, challenge, tantalize, take my breath away and leave me wanting more. My affairs with books have been passionate and many. And I am the better for my unfaithfulness to a singe book or any one author.   This is why when I am asked to name my favorite book I find myself embarrassed by my inability to name the one book that I would take with me to a desert island or even the five books or ten. I know that my favorite writer (now deceased) was a man named Richard Martin Stern. Mr. Stern was my favorite author because when I wrote to him as a teenager to tell him how much I loved his mystery series (featuring an African American, or actually biracial, female anthropologist), he wrote back to thank me for my letter. By doing so, he helped to set me on my own path toward becoming a writer. But this does not mean Mr. Stern’s Johnny Ortiz......

Words: 786 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Teenagers

...Saklain Alam Saklain Alam Blame my brain! Yesterday, I slept until lunch time and then crawled out of my bed, leaving my dirty underwear on my bedroom floor. Is there something wrong with that? Absolutely not! I’m a teenager with a pea sized brain and as the scientists have proven, I’ll probably be like this until I’m at least twenty. So parents – just get used to it, it’s going to be a long road ahead. If you are a teenager just like me, if your dad shouts at you in the morning because you are not getting out of your bed for breakfast, if your mum yells at you when you cover the shiny, cleaned bathroom floor with your impure and filthy underpants, then this is exactly what you need to do: Tell them that this is not your fault. Why? Because the motivation part of your brain, the right ventral striatum, has not developed fully yet. These are not my words which I just made up for excuses. These are the words of scientists. Proven facts! How cool is that?! Finally, Scientists are backing up the teenagers. I thought science is just about cells, space and atoms. No, it is not! It is useful in this case. As I read the article “Teenagers’ pea-sized brain” in the Daily Mail from Max Davidson, I was amazed and thought that this was the most interesting and useful article I have ever read. After reading it, some ideas immediately came to my head on how I can defeat my parents when answering back. Parents need to understand that we are just not as easily enthused as we were. It......

Words: 773 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Teenager Obesity and Societal Bias

...Teenager Obesity and Societal Bias NUR/440Health Assessment and Promotion of Vulnerable Population September 19, 2011 Teenager Obesity and Societal Bias Obesity is a well-recognized disease, and childhood obesity is a long-term risk factor for adult morbidity and social disabilities (Flodmark, Lissau, & Pietrobelli, 2005) Weight prejudice is rampant in the health care, according to Puhl 2009, there is no antidiscrimination laws against weight discrimination. The common thought that obese patients did that to themselves triggers negative attitudes, societal stigma and/or unfair treatment of the overweight or obese patient. Obesity is prevalent in our society with 30% of the adult population considered obese. Within that population, teenagers are even more vulnerable than adults and can be more deeply affected by compromised preventative care, whether because of themselves or society (Puhl, 2009). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2011), among U.S. high school students * 12% are obese. * 29% drink at least one soda a day. * 23% do not have 60 minutes of physical activity on any day during the survey. * 67% did not attend PE classes daily when they were in school. * 33% watched television three or more hours per day on an average school day. * 25% used computers three or more hours per day on an average school day. Because body fat levels change as children grow and mature, doctors use gender-specific BMI-for-age......

Words: 1506 - Pages: 7