Institute for Positive Psychology & Education

Engaging Students During the Early Years of Secondary School: A Scalable and Sustainable Teacher Professional Learning Intervention

The influence that teachers have on the motivation of students and their engagement with classroom and school activities is a vital factor in academic results. The level of engagement a student has at school has been shown to play a critical role in how well they do in key subjects like maths, literacy, and physical exercise, and this in turn is a strong indicator of how well they will do later in life. Those who perform poorly are more likely to drop out and have reduced employment, social, and health prospects as adults.

In Australian secondary schools, research has shown that students from low socio-economic communities are less engaged in school than their peers from wealthier backgrounds, which compounds the disadvantages that this population faces. The sharpest decline in engagement happens in the transition from primary to secondary school, so helping new students get involved from their first year at high school is a crucial moment for positive change in the lives of underprivileged adolescents.

The Institute for Positive Psychology & Education (Australian Catholic University) is undertaking this research project which focuses on how teachers can help their students become engaged from the day they arrive. It begins with a year of observation to identify what teachers already do successfully to encourage and inspire engagement. The results will be used to design strategies that all teachers can use, to ensure that students from low socio-economic backgrounds engage positively with learning and ultimately do well in school and into their adult lives.

Researchers: Associate Professor Chris Lonsdale, Associate Professor Mark Beauchamp, Professor Carmel Diezmann, Professor Anthony Maeder, Professor Nikos Ntoumanis, Professor Richard M Ryan, Professor Alexander Yeung, Dr David Litalien
Start Date: 1 January 2016
End Date: 31 December 2019
Funding Body: Australian Research Council Discovery Project

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