Research and student engagement

Students who enjoy school, attend regularly and are well-behaved in class are six months ahead of their peers who don't have the same experience, according to new research from the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation.

The publication, 'Improving high school engagement, classroom practices and achievement', shows what indicators of engagement and classroom practice best predict student outcomes in the first few years of high school.

Dr Jenny Donovan, CESE's executive director, said that the results provide a reminder about what really matters when it comes to student learning.

"Teachers know that student engagement is critical for academic achievement. This research establishes just how much of a difference engagement can make."

"What this research shows is how far a student's learning can progress when school leaders and teachers take practical steps to improve classroom practices, and when they are alert to student disengagement and take steps to reverse it."

CESE's research combines results from the Tell Them From Me student survey with NAPLAN reading performance. By measuring student engagement and experience of classroom practices alongside student performance, CESE has been able to quantify how much difference they make to learning. 

Student attendance and behaviour can seem difficult for schools and teachers to change, but the research shows that experiencing high quality teaching improves engagement and performance. The difference between students who report experiencing high quality teaching and those who do not can be the equivalent of over six months of learning.

Schools can achieve significant improvements by setting high expectations for attendance, behaviour and academic achievement. It is also important to teach challenging material in a way that students understand, be well organised in the classroom, allow students to ask questions, and provide clear responses to them.

CESE's publication, which includes a summary of strategies teachers and schools can use to improve engagement and achievement is available on the CESE website. 

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