Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Effects of Student Engagement on Educational Attainment
by Lawson, Michael Alvin, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2011, 201; 3474412
Abstract (Summary)

Drawing from a nationally representative sample of 12,754 10th grade students attending public high schools in the United States, this dissertation consists of two papers which explore the complex nuances associated with student engagement and its relationship with educational attainment.

In the first paper, “Exploring the Face and Content Validity of Student Engagement Profiles,” I offered an expanded and integrative framework for student engagement research, one that is inclusive of a broad range of student activity at home, school, and in the community, as well as students’ cognitive and affective dispositions toward school and schooling. Guided by this framework, I used Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to explore qualitative differences in students’ activity- and disposition-oriented engagement patterns.

From these analyses, six characteristically distinct profiles of students’ activity engagement and six characteristically distinct profiles of student engagement dispositions were initially culled and then cross-validated from the data. When examined relationally, 36 “global” profiles of student engagement were supported by the data—none of which were estimated to represent more than 10% of the student population.

The 36 profiles yielded from the first paper framed my analysis of their relationship with educational attainment outcomes as detailed in the dissertation’s second paper. Specifically, in “The Effects of Student Engagement on Educational Attainment,” I employed latent class regression techniques to examine how profiles of student activities, dispositions, and the interactions between them, relate to students’ chances of dropping-out of high school, completing high school, and enrolling in a post-secondary school or institution.

My results suggest that the relative effect of each “global” engagement profile varies depending on the educational attainment outcome of interest. For high school completion outcomes, student activity profiles characterized by participation in school-based and community-based extra-curricular activity (ECA) appeared to carry special holding power for high school completion. However, for post-secondary enrollment outcomes, the long-term marginal effects associated with ECA engagement became more modest relative to those activity patterns which were home-based and school-focused. I conclude the dissertation by offering select implications for educational theory, research, policy, and practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Heckman, Paul E., Masyn, Katherine E.
Commitee: Kurlaender, Michal
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational psychology, Secondary education
Keywords: Activity research, Dropout, Educational attainment, Engagement, High school completion, School drop-out, Student engagement, Student participation
Publication Number: 3474412
ISBN: 978-1-124-90750-5
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