Prevalence and Patterns of Academic Enabling Behaviors: An Analysis of Teachers' and Students' Ratings for a National Sample of Students

Article excerpt

Abstract. Academic enabling behaviors play a significant role in the development of academically competent students. Academic enablers are behaviors that facilitate learning such as social skills, study skills, motivation, and engagement. In this study, teacher and student ratings were used to describe the academic enablers of a nationally representative sample of 2,060 K-12 students. Differences in academic enablers were also examined for students who differed according to their educational status (i.e., general education, at-risk, and learning disability) and sex. Teacher ratings indicated that students without disabilities demonstrated higher levels of academic enablers that students with disabilities and students at-risk. Teacher ratings also indicated that female students demonstrated academic enablers more frequently than male students. Student self-ratings indicated that students without disabilities exhibited academic enablers more frequently than students with disabilities. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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Academic enablers are "attitudes and behaviors that allow a student to benefit from classroom instruction" (DiPerna & Elliott, 2000, p. 4). Academic enablers represent a collection of skills and behaviors, such as interpersonal skills, motivation, study skills, and engagement that can be taught to all students, which in turn can influence the development and use of academic skills such as reading, mathematics, and critical thinking. Researchers have theorized and demonstrated moderate to strong relationships between academic enabling behaviors and academic skills (Caprara, Barbaranelli, Pastorelli, Bandura, & Zimbardo, 2000; DiPerna & Elliott, 1999; Malecki & Elliott, 2002; Wentzel, 1993). Also, researchers testing models of academic achievement have indicated that academic enabling behaviors play a significant role in students' development and learning (DiPerna, 1999; DiPerna, Volpe, & Elliott, 2002; Haertel, Walberg, & Weinstein, 1983; Mroch, 2000). However, researchers have generally not explored potential differences in academic enabling behaviors among students differing in educational status (general education, at-risk, learning disability) or sex.

Relationships Between Academic Enablers and Academic Achievement

Several researchers have explored the magnitude of the relationships between specific academic enablers and academic achievement. Wentzel (1993) examined the relationship between measures of academic achievement (i.e., grades and standardized achievement test scores) and students' social and academic behavior. Results indicated that teacher ratings of students' prosocial, antisocial, and academic behavior were significant, independent predictors of student grade point average (GPA). Prosocial and antisocial behavior also contributed indirectly to GPA through academic behavior. Only prosocial behavior, however, was a significant, independent predictor of standardized achievement test scores.

Malecki and Elliott (2002) used standardized measures of social behavior completed by parents, teachers, and students to explore the relationships between social behaviors and academic outcomes. Using regression analyses, Malecki and Elliott demonstrated that social skills were a significant predictor of academic competence, and academic competence, in turn, was a significant predictor of achievement. Like Wentzel (1993), they concluded that social skills have a significant predictive relationship with academic outcomes.

Evidence supporting the relationships between academic achievement and the enablers of motivation, engagement, and study skills resulted from the development of the Academic Competence Evaluation Scales (ACES; DiPerna & Elliott, 2000), a family of rating scales designed to assess student academic competence. During the development of the ACES, DiPerna and Elliott conducted several studies (e. …