Engaging students for their GSCEs: The role of teacher messages and student emotions


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This paper reports on the first phase of a longitudinal study in which data is being collected from 1,400 Year 10/11 students using a fully cross-lagged panel design. The aim is to robustly test the relationships between student appraisals of teacher messages regarding their upcoming GCSE maths exam, positive and negative emotions about the exam, engagement in maths lessons and performance in the exam itself. Relations between appraisals of teacher messages and academic emotions have not previously been investigated, however it is important to understand particularly the emotions associated with appraising the messages as threatening and how this in turn relates to student engagement. Self-reported data on appraisals of teacher messages, academic emotions and behavioural engagement were collected from 1,400 Year 10 students at the end of the spring term. We also collected and controlled for previous end of Year 9 maths grades to strengthen the validity of the findings. Positive relations were hypothesised between appraising teacher messages as challenging, experiencing more positive emotions and higher engagement in lessons. Likewise, threat appraisals, negative emotions and lower engagement were expected to be positively related. Structural equation models confirmed our predictions and although our conclusions are tentative at this point due to the cross-sectional nature of the data, they show that the way in which students interpret teacher messages about their exam have distinct associations with how they feel about the exam and their engagement in lessons. Practical implications for teachers in terms of their communication about GCSE exams are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2019
EventBritish Psychological Society Psychology of Education Section Annual Conference - Manchester, UK
Duration: 12 Sept 201913 Sept 2019


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Psychology of Education Section Annual Conference


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