Learner Engagement: A Review of Approaches in the Psychology of Education and Art Education

Claire Kinsella, Dave Putwain, Linda Kaye

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This article critically examines the concept of ‘engagement’ as it has emerged within two distinct bodies of literature in the fields of art education and the psychology of education. In order to grapple with the heterogeneous nature of this literature, a meta-narrative review was conducted whereby recurring narratives from various sub-fields including special educational needs, gallery education and human development, were systematically identified and analysed in order to clarify the diversity of ways in which the concept of engagement is used within different research traditions. Areas of overlap between the ways in which the concept is understood and treated within these various texts were examined, as well as a consideration of the potential for any tensions to arise between them. It will be argued that the gap between the manner in which learner engagement is conceived and employed within these disciplines is not as wide as one might presume and that rather than these being incongruous with one another, in many respects, the approaches adopted within each discipline are complementary. It will be suggested that with further disciplinary exchange, especially with respect to the role of educational artefacts and social signals arising during the learning process, wider scope arises for advancing our understanding of learner engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-289
JournalReview of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 May 2016


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