The Student Engagement in Schools Questionnaire (SESQ) and the Teacher Engagement Report Form-New (TERF-N): Examining the Preliminary Evidence

By Hart, Shelley R.; Stewart, Kaitlyn et al. | Contemporary School Psychology, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Student Engagement in Schools Questionnaire (SESQ) and the Teacher Engagement Report Form-New (TERF-N): Examining the Preliminary Evidence


Hart, Shelley R., Stewart, Kaitlyn, Jimerson, Shane R., Contemporary School Psychology


Student engagement in school is an important construct that has been associated with student success. For the current study, researchers examined the psychometrics of the Student Engagement in Schools Questionnaire (SESQ) and the Teacher Engagement Report Form (TERF-N) of student engagement. The results revealed that both the SESQ and the TERF-N have good internal consistency. The exploratory factor analysis results for the SESQ demonstrated alignment with the theoretically driven development (five factors: Affective Engagement-Liking for Learning, Affective Engagement-Liking for School, Behavioral Engagement-Effort & Persistence, Behavioral Engagement-Extracurricular, and Cognitive Engagement) whereas the results for the TERF-N were more complicated. The items did not load as conceptualized in a 3-factor model, but instead loaded on one, General Engagement factor. Finally, while it may be that teachers viewed a student's level of engagement as a global construct, the correlations between the measures indicated that they might be used to provide helpful, convergent information obtained from a variety of sources regarding a student's levels of engagement. Future directions and implications for school psychologists are discussed.

Engagement is a growth-producing activity through which an individual allocates attention in active response to the environment (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Engagement related to school activity (or student engagement) has become an important concept related to multiple educational outcomes (e.g., achievement, attendance, behavior, dropout/completion; e.g., Finn, 1989; Jimerson, Campos, & Greif, 2003; Jimerson, Renshaw, Stewart, Hart, & O'Malley, 2009). Student engagement has been identified as a primary variable in understanding dropout, particularly as a gradual process operating in a student's life and influencing that final decision to withdraw (Jimerson et al., 2009). Numerous studies have linked student engagement with improved academic performance and it has repeatedly demonstrated to be a robust predictor of achievement and behavior in the schools (Appleton, Christenson, & Furlong, 2008; Shernoff & Schmidt, 2008). It has also been correlated with both health compromising (e.g., substance abuse, depression, suicidality, aggression, early sexual activity) and health promoting (e.g., exercise, nutrition, safe sex activities) behaviors (Carter, McGee, Taylor, & Williams, 2007).

As a result of its demonstrated relationships with a variety of outcomes, it is postulated that an understanding of student engagement might help educators prevent deleterious outcomes and promote positive ones for at-risk students. Student engagement is a construct that resonates with most consumers of education, including students and parents (Appleton, Christenson, & Furlong, 2008) and presents an attractive focus for researchers and educators, in that compared to other predictors of academic success that are static (e.g., socioeconomic status [SES], ethnicity), it is believed to be a malleable characteristic and therefore a more appropriate focus for interventions (e.g., Christenson, Sinclair, Lehr, & Godber, 2001). In addition, both the individual and the environment shape a student's level of engagement, thus, there are many factors in the school environment (e.g. interpersonal relationships, recognition) that may enhance it (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). Indeed, researchers have shown that effective interventions to promote student engagement and motivation also enhance the probability of high school completion (Rcschly, Appleton, & Christenson, 2007). For these reasons it can be viewed as an asset associated with positive student outcomes (Furlong et al., 2003).

DEFINING AND MEASURING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN SCHOOL

Despite its apparent utility, student engagement remains a nebulous construct with researchers using ambiguous or inconsistent definitions resulting in equally nebulous measures. …

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