Facilitating re-engagement in learning: A disengaged student perspective

Laura Nicholson, Dave Putwain

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Abstract

Past research into student engagement has focused on behavioural engagement in students attending mainstream schools. The current research investigated the school-related factors that facilitate re-engagement in learning from the perspective of initially disengaged students. Adopting a student-centred perspective allowed us to capture affective and cognitive, as well as behavioural, engagement. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 35 students (aged 14–16 years) attending an alternative provision (AP) secondary school. These students were disengaged with learning on arrival at the school. Students answered questions about their engagement and academic progress at the AP school. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to identify, describe and interpret the themes within the data. In general, students believed that they had re-engaged with their education having joined the AP school. Themes representing factors that students believed facilitated this re-engagement were organised into four areas: classroom, relational, generic school and personal. Key facilitators of engagement were positive student-staff relationships and low student-staff ratios. Several new factors, idiosyncratic to disengaged students, emerged. As these factors are not represented in existing models of engagement, they can be used to form a model of re-engagement into education. Moreover, the current findings need to be disseminated to mainstream schools to enable them to incorporate elements into their teaching practices to prevent disengagement/ encourage re-engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-41
JournalThe Psychology of Education Review
Volume39
Issue number2
Early online date1 Oct 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Oct 2015

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