Student perceptions of teaching practices that can facilitate educational re-engagement

Laura Nicholson, Dave Putwain

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Past research into student engagement has focused on behavioural engagement in students attending mainstream school. The present study investigated the school-related factors that facilitate re-engagement in learning from the perspective of disengaged students. Specifically, teacher (or other school staff) behaviours that supported the psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness and competence were identified using the framework of self-determination theory (SDT; Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, and Ryan 1991). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 35 secondary school students (aged 14–16 years) attending an alternative provision (AP) school in England and data were triangulated using staff interviews and lesson observations. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify, describe and interpret the themes within the data. Students believed that they were engaged in their learning at the AP school, and the student-staff relationship was found to be crucial to this re-engagement. Students reported many different avenues through which staff supported their needs for autonomy, relatedness and competence. These specific teacher behaviours may reflect a process of re-engagement into education not currently represented in existing models of engagement and may be used to form the basis of 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
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Feb 2016
EventInternational Conference on Motivation - Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Duration: 24 Aug 201627 Aug 2016


ConferenceInternational Conference on Motivation


  • Student re-engagement
  • alternative education
  • self-system model
  • psychological needs
  • student-teacher relationships


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