The Relationship between Student Engagement and Academic Performance: Is It a Myth or Reality?

Lee, Jung-Sook - May 2014 - The Journal of Educational Research (Volume 107, Issue 3)

The author examined the relationship between student engagement and academic performance, using U.S. data of the Program for International Student Assessment 2000. The sample comprised 3,268 fifteen-year-old students from 121 U.S. schools. Multilevel analysis showed that behavioral engagement (defined as effort and perseverance in learning) and emotional engagement (defined as sense of belonging) significantly predicted reading performance. The effect of emotional engagement on reading performance was partially mediated through behavioral engagement. Findings from the present study suggest that educators, policy makers, and the research community need to pay more attention to student engagement and ways to enhance it. 

How the research is incorporated into Akwai's software

The following is an excerpt from the 'Student Engagement' section of the paper;

It is estimated that 25% to 60% of U.S. students are disengaged from school (Klem & Connell, 2004; Willms, 2003). This phenomenon is not unique to the United States and appears to be common and widespread. In a study using data from the Program for International Student Assessment 2000 (OECD, 2000), Willms (2003) found that 25% of students in the 43 countries reported a low sense of belonging, and 20% of students reported low participation. Lack of student engagement at school has been a serious concern for educators and policy makers because disengaged students are more likely to struggle academically, to drop out of school, and to have problem behaviors (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). Taking a developmental perspective, academic failure and dropping out are not isolated events but the result of a long-term process of disengagement from school (Alexander, Entwisle, & Horsey, 1997; Randolph, Fraser, & Orthner, 2004). Thus, enhancing student engagement may help prevent these poor student outcomes.
Student engagement is a multifaceted concept. Researchers have identified several components of student engagement (e.g., behavioral, emotional/psychological, cognitive, academic; Appleton, Christenson, & Furlong, 2008; Fredricks et al., 2004). Although there is no consensus on which of these components is important, most studies have included behavioral and emotional components. The term behavioral engagement usually encompasses a broad range of behaviors at school, from merely showing up to actively participating in academic or nonacademic activities. Fredricks et al. (2004), for example, identified three forms of behavioral engagement: positive conduct, involvement in learning, and participation in school-related activities. Positive conduct includes attending class, avoiding disruptive behaviors, responding to directions, and following classroom rules. Involvement in learning includes concentrating, making an effort, being persistent, contributing to class discussion, asking questions, finishing homework, and spending extra time on class-related learning. Participation in school-related activities includes taking part in extracurricular activities such as sports teams or student organizations.
Emotional engagement, also called affective or psychological engagement, includes affective reactions and having a sense of belonging at school (Finn, 1993; Willms, 2003). Affective reactions toward tasks, school, and people at school (e.g., teachers or peers) may include liking, disliking, being interested, being bored, being happy, being sad, or being anxious. Positive emotional reactions to tasks or people can lead to students having a sense of belonging at school. Having a sense of belonging refers to feeling accepted, included, respected, and/or valued by people at school (Goodenow & Grady, 1993; Willms, 2003). Other relevant terms used are identification with school (Finn, 1993), school connectedness (Shochet, Dadds, Ham, & Montague, 2006), and attachment to school (Johnson, Crosnoe, & Elder, 2001).

A Template is a pre-made set/collection of To-Dos, Tasks, UnProductives, Ratings and Questions. Templates are curated to help students accomplish a specific goal or objective (e.g. improve academics, gain college admission, get scholarship money, etc.). Throughout students' usage of Akwai, they will be given different Templates based on their current aspirations. 

In the excerpt above the bolded words have been converted into To-Dos, Tasks, UnProductives, Ratings and Questions that can all be tracked within Akwai's mobile app. This collection (called the Student Engagement Template) makes the findings in this research actionable and measurable as the students work toward improving their personal engagement.