Academic journal article Review of Management

Determinants of Management Students' Engagement in a Women's University

Academic journal article Review of Management

Determinants of Management Students' Engagement in a Women's University

Article excerpt

Introduction

This paper is based on a study that is part of a series of such studies on the topic of student engagement, which has so far remained unexplored in India. The earlier six studies on this topic were carried out with samples of MBA students drawn from co-educational business schools located in Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan. The present study is based on a sample of 285 students pursuing the MBA course at an all-women university. It will be of interest to find out whether the all-women character of the institution has any unique impact on the level of student engagement and/or its determinants.

In countries like United States, Canada and Australia where such studies are carried out on a regular basis, student engagement is viewed as a reasonable "proxy" of real and deep learning (Weimer, 2009). In India, where there is no institutionalized system to elicit such perceptual "feedback" from the students, the quality of educational inputs is judged mainly on the basis of grades or marks obtained, in tests and examinations. Since marks can be obtained, at least in some cases, through rote learning, this measure of quality can at best be described as cognitive or intellectual engagement. The lasting value of such learning is highly questionable. Therefore, it is desirable that the traditional methods of ascertaining whether learning has indeed taken place be supplemented by regular surveys of student engagement.

What is Student Engagement?

The student engagement construct has been conceptualized in two different ways. As per the most commonly employed conception, it refers to the manifest behaviour of students reflected in their active participation in educationally purposeful activities, both inside and outside the classroom (Kuh, 2003; Kuh et al., 2007). The annually conducted National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in the United States is based entirely on this conception. Elaborating this conception, Trowler (2010) says that "student engagement is concerned with the interaction between the time, effort and other resources invested by both students and their institutions intended to optimize the student experience and enhance the learning outcomes and development of students as well as the performance and reputation of the institution". This definition concentrates mainly on the manifest activities of the students without taking into account the cognitive or emotional aspects of the attitudes of students that underlie their behavirour.

The alternative conceptualization views student engagement solely in terms of the attitude of students towards their learning experience. For example, Mann (2001) considers engagement as the antonym of alienation, while Maslach & Leiter (1997) consider it the exact opposite of burnout. Both alienation and burnout are attitudinal phenomena reflecting cognitive and emotional experiences of a person. Schaufeli et al. (2002) have defined student engagement more explicitly as a positive, fulfilling, and affective motivational state. Mosenthal (1999) too has argued that student engagement construct is grounded in the cognitive and affective systems of the learners.

Combining the two conceptions summarized above, Marks (2000) has defined student engagement more comprehensively as "a psychological process, specifically, the attention, interest, investment and effort students expend in the work of learning." According to Skinner et al. (1990), student engagement refers to students' initiation of action, effort and persistence on school work as well as ambient emotional states during learning activities. Cleary & Skaines (2005) too define student engagement as "the active involvement, commitment and a sense of belonging that dictate the time and effort students devote to educationally purposeful activities." The present study is based on this comprehensive meaning of the student engagement construct.

Student engagement is a multi-dimensional construct. …

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