Improving Student Engagement: A Practical Action Research Study on Student Engagement at An Urban High School

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership


School of Education and Health Sciences


James Olive


The purpose of this study is to address the lack of student engagement at Northeast High school by addressing the following research questions: (1) What are the current student engagement levels at Northeast High School? (2) How can the level of student engagement at Northeast High School be improved? For this study, student engagement consists of Appleton et al.'s (2008) four subtypes of student engagement: academic engagement, behavioral engagement, cognitive engagement, and affective engagement. Northeast High School has experienced a myriad of challenges that are affecting student engagement, such as the school's chronic absenteeism, lack of academic achievement, and increased discipline infractions. The proposed study employed the Check & Connect conceptual framework, which is informed by the theoretical frameworks of Resilience Theory, Cognitive-Behavioral Theory, Systems Theory, and Intrinsic Motivation Theory (Anderson et al., 2004; Christenson et. al., 2012). This study employed an action research design that used a mixed-method approach and examined several quantitative, qualitative, and phenomenological data sources. The study administered the Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) to measure student engagement. The study also collected artifacts such as student attendance records, report cards, discipline records, and stakeholder interviews to look deeper into the student engagement results of the Student Engagement Instrument (SEI). I collected quantitative data for this study from 500 students in the ninth through twelfth grades at Northeast High School. I collected qualitative data for this study by focusing on a purposive homogeneous non-probability sample of 10 students. I used descriptive analysis to calculate the levels of student engagement at Northeast High School. Once I determined the student engagement levels, I designed the Cougar Time Initiative to address and improve the student engagement levels at Northeast High School through fostering group relationships and one-on-one teacher-student interactions. The Cougar Time Initiative consisted of trusted adults conducting student progress check-ins and facilitating student peer support groups. In sum, this study has provided the stakeholders of Northeast High school with vital data concerning student engagement at the school. Northeast High school and similar organizations can benefit from this study because it provides a framework for assessing and identifying student engagement levels and an action plan for improving targeted areas of student engagement.


Education Philosophy, Educational Leadership, Education Policy, Educational Psychology, Educational Theory, Elementary Education, Education, Education Finance, Education History, Educational Evaluation, Educational Sociology, Educational Tests and Measurements, Secondary Education, student engagement, academic engagement, behavioral engagement, cognitive engagement, affective engagement

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