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Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention | Institute on Community Integration
Institute on Community Integration CEHD

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The Student Engagement Instrument (SEI)

The Student Engagement Instrument is used to measure a student's level of engagement at school and with learning, including multiple dimensions of engagement that go beyond academics. The instrument is based on a model of student engagement proposed by Christenson, Appleton, Reschly, and colleagues that grew out of work with Check & Connect.

The model postulates that engagement is multidimensional, relates to important outcomes such as graduation and postsecondary outcomes, is influenced by context (families, schools, peers), and is amenable to intervention. They specify four types of engagement: academic, behavioral, cognitive, and affective. The Student Engagement Instrument (SEI; Appleton, Christenson, Kim, & Reschly, 2006) was developed to measure the two higher-inference types of student engagement--affective and cognitive--via student self-report.  The SEI focuses on cognitive and affective engagement because data supporting inferences on student levels of academic and behavioral engagement are readily available within most schools' existing data systems.

The pilot study of the SEI was conducted with over 1900 9th grade students. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, respectively, were conducted on separate, randomly selected, halves of the sample (Appleton et al., 2006).

35 items on 6 subscales were retained and related to the factors listed below:

Cognitive Engagement

  1. Control and Relevance of School Work
  2. Future Goals and Aspirations
  3. Extrinsic MotivationThe Extrinsic Motivation factor is sometimes dropped from research because it is comprised of only 2 items.  School-based data utilization tends to leave this factor in the scale.*

Affective Engagement

  1. Teacher-Student Relationships
  2. Peer Support for Learning
  3. Family Support for Learning

As expected, the factors were generally correlated with variables such as GPA, behavioral incidents, and student achievement.

Betts et al. (2010) replicated the factor structure of the SEI and reported evidence of measurement invariance for students in grades 6-12, indicating that the SEI functions similarly across grade levels.

Reschly, Betts, and Appleton (2011) found additional evidence supporting the factor structure of the SEI in a sample of students from the rural Southeast. Evidence of convergent and divergent validity was also found for the SEI and another measure of motivation and engagement, the Motivation and Engagement Scale (Martin, 2007). The SEI and MES were correlated as expected with external measures of academic functioning and school behavior.

Lovelace, Reschly, Appleton, and Lutz (2011) examined the fit of the SEI specifically for students at high risk of poor outcomes (e.g., students with high-incidence disabilities). Results supported the factor structure of the instrument with this population of students. In addition, extreme scores on the SEI were predictive of dropout and performance on the state mandated high-stakes achievement assessment.

The SEI has been also used as an outcome variable in other studies of school functioning (Lewis, Huebner, Reschly, & Valois, 2009; Reschly, Huebner, Appleton, & Antaramian, 2008). Extensions of the SEI have been piloted with college-age (Grier-Reed, Appleton, Rodriguez, Ganuza, & Reschly, 2012; Waldrop & Reschly, 2011) and upper elementary school students (grades 3-5; SEI-E; Carter, Reschly, Lovelace, Appleton, & Thompson, 2011).

A recent review of measures of engagement by the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) Regional Education Laboratory - Southeast summarized the characteristics of the SEI (see Measuring Student Engagement in Upper Elementary through High School: A Description of 21 Instruments).   Several school districts across the U.S. have inquired about or are actively using the SEI.  Information regarding systems implementation of this type of data collection and applied (school-based) evaluations of these data may be found in Appleton (in press) and Appleton, Reschly, and Martin (2011).

Please register here to obtain a copy of the Student Engagement Instrument and related articles.

See also

*The Extrinsic Motivation factor is sometimes dropped from research because it is comprised of only 2 items.  School-based data utilization tends to leave this factor in the scale.

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