Classroom Processes, Students' Engagement in Mathematics Instruction, and Mathematics Achievement

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The first aim is to measure students' engagement in mathematics instruction, using measures borrowed from developmental psychology. The second aim is to use state-of-the-art observationally-based approaches to examine what occurs inside the classroom to understand the contribution of classroom processes to student engagement. The third aim is to examine the relation between students’ engagement in learning and mathematics proficiency and to consider the extent to which students’ engagement serves as the mechanism explaining the relation between classroom social processes and student mathematics achievement.


This research will be conducted in fifth grade classrooms in 20 elementary schools.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is longitudinal, and is designed to generate evidence that is descriptive using observation, and also associative/correlational. The proposed research is situated in the context of the presence or absence of two instructional approaches: half of the teachers are using inquiry-based mathematics instruction and half are not; half of the teachers are using the Responsive Classroom® approach (a Social and Emotional Learning intervention designed to enhance teachers’ capacity to manage their classroom) and half are not. The comparison condition is business-as-usual practice in classrooms.

This project collects original data using assessments of learning/achievement tests, personal observation, and survey research including paper and pencil self-completion questionnaires.

Students' report of engagement in mathematics, self-efficacy in mathematics, and anxiety toward mathematics:

  • Student Engagement in Mathematics (items derived from Kong, Wong & Lamb, 2003; Meece, 2009, unpublished; Midgley et al., 2000; Patrick, Ryan, & Kaplan, 2007; Skinner & Belmont, 1993)
  • Self-efficacy and Math Anxiety Questionnaire (items derived from Midgley et al., 2000; Owens et al., 2007)

Teachers’ report of student engagement in mathematics:

  • Teacher Report of Student Engagement (items derived from Deckler et al., 2007; Skinner & Belmont, 1993)
  • Mock Report Card (Pierce, Hamm & Vandell,
  • Social Skills Rating System (Gresham & Elliot, 1987)

 Observations of students' engagement:

  • Student Observed Engagement Measure (Rimm-Kaufman & Ponitz, 2010)

Executive function:

  • Auditory Working Memory (Woodcock, McGrew, & Mather, 2001)

Family report of students' use of math at home: 

  • Family Learning Questionnaire (items derived from Gottfried, Fleming, & Gottfried, 1998)

Our study examines the influences of classroom processes on student achievement while considering student engagement, measured with multiple instruments, as a potential mediating variable. A variety of statistical analyses are planned, including descriptive analysis, factor analysis for verifying the major aspects of engagement, correlation analysis and multi-trait and multi-method (MTMM) confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) approach for examining the relations among data collection methods (i.e., observations, teacher report, child report) and among aspects of engagement (e.g., behavioral and emotional). We will use two-level models (individual students and classrooms) for linking classroom processes with student engagement and achievement.


To date this project has not generated any findings.

Other Products: 

We expect to develop and/or refine measure(s) of students' engagement in mathematics, including their cognitive interest and motivation to learn mathematics.