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The pilot study of the SEI was conducted with a large, diverse group of 9th grade students. An initial set of items were drawn from the literature and then refined following focus groups with students; a total of 56 items were originally piloted on the survey. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses identified 35-items that loaded on 6 factors: 3 representing cognitive engagement and 3 representing affective engagement.
Several studies of the SEI have been conducted with students in grades 6-12. Additional research has confirmed the factor structure of the SEI (Betts, Appleton, Reschly, Christenson, & Huebner, 2010; Reschly, Betts, & Appleton, 2014) and provided evidence of measurement invariance and score reliability across grades 6-12 and gender (Betts et al., 2010). Another study, conducted with students in grades 9-12, provided evidence of convergent and divergent validity with another measure of engagement and motivation (Reschly et al., 2014).
With respect to concurrent validity, low- to moderate- correlations, in expected directions, have been found between SEI scores and other measures of school performance (e.g., achievement, attendance, disciplinary incidents; Reschly et al., 2014). Using a large sample (N=35,900) of middle school students, Lovelace, Reschly, Appleton, and Lutz (2014) compared SEI scores for three groups of students: those who were behaviorally disengaged, as determined by absences and disciplinary incidents, with those who were not; students with disability classifications that placed them at high risk of dropout (i.e., Emotional and Behavior Disorders) compared to a lower-risk category (i.e., Speech/Language Impairment), and those with above and below average achievement. Each comparison was statistically significant and with one exception (CRSW and achievement level), in the expected direction.
A few studies have also examined the long-term predictive validity of the SEI. Pearson, using data from a large sample of 8th graders, found that 69% of the variation in college-ready graduation from high school could be predicted from 8th grade variables (e.g., achievement, motivation, behavior, family and school characteristics). Of these, the SEI scales counted for a large portion of this prediction (Pearson, 2014). Similarly, Lovelace et al. (2014), after controlling for demographic variables associated with dropout risk, found that 9th grade SEI scores predicted dropout and on-time graduation 4 years later. A second study sought to determine whether the SEI added anything of value for prediction beyond the data readily available in school records, specifically those indicators commonly used in Early Warning Systems. Two of the SEI factors in particular, Future Goals and Aspirations and Family Support for Learning, contributed unique, significant variance to the prediction of high school dropout, even after several variables that were highly and independently predictive of dropout, were taken into account (Lovelace, Reschly, & Appleton, in press). Finally, a recent study found, after controlling for demographic, behavior, and achievement variables, that SEI scores in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades significantly predicted college attendance and persistence through the first year (Fraysier, Reschly, & Appleton, 2017).
The SEI has been extended downward to grades 3-5 (SEI-E; Carter, Reschly, Lovelace, Appleton, & Thompson, 2012) and upward to college-age students (SEI-C; Grier-Reed, Appleton, Rodriguez, Ganuza, & Reschly, 2012; Waldrop, Reschly, Fraysier, & Appleton, in press). In addition, a brief version of the SEI for potential use in progress monitoring (SEI-B; Pinzone, Appleton, & Reschly, 2017) and a version for students in grades 1 and 2 (SEI-E2) are being developed.
Students’ engagement data may be used to identify those who are at-risk for disengagement and dropout as well as to inform and monitor the effects of interventions. Several resources are available linking these four types of engagement to intervention strategies (Christenson et al., 2008; Reschly, Appleton, & Pohl, 2014, Reschly, Pohl, Christenson, & Appleton, 2017) and illustrating the use of SEI data in applied settings (Appleton, 2012; Reschly et al., 2014).
Early warning systems use school record data— such as attendance rate, behavior records, and course performance—to identify students at risk of dropping out. These are useful predictors of graduation-related outcomes, in large part because they indicate a student's level of engagement with school. However, these data do not indicate how invested students are in education—information that could help school counselors and other staff understand and intervene when students are falling off the path to graduation. To examine whether student engagement surveys have additional predictive value beyond data readily available in school databases, we followed a cohort of students, who completed a survey of cognitive/affective engagement as ninth graders, to one year beyond their expected high school graduation. Some engagement factors measured by the survey met rigorous tests of predictive value in terms of identifying which students were falling off the graduation path, even when controlling for other powerful predictors of the outcome (Lovelace et al. 2018Lovelace, M. D., Reschly, A. L. & Appleton, J. J. (2018). Beyond School Records: The Value of Cognitive and Affective Engagement in Predicting Dropout and On-Time Graduation. Professional School Counseling, 21, 70-84. DOI: 10.5330/1096-2409-21.1.70).
This study evaluated the psychometric properties of the Student Engagement Instrument–College version (SEI–C) with college students in the southeastern United States. Participants self-selected paper-and-pencil or online administration. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed a modified 5-factor structure. Measurement invariance of the modified 5-factor structure of the SEI–C was assessed across the paper-and-pencil and online samples. Full configural, full metric, partial scalar, and full residual variance invariance This study evaluated the psychometric properties of the Student Engagement Instrument–College version (SEI–C) with college students in the southeastern United States. Participants self-selected paper-and-pencil or online administration. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed a modified 5-factor structure. Measurement invariance of the modified 5-factor structure of the SEI–C was assessed across the paper-and-pencil and online samples. Full configural, full metric, partial scalar, and full residual variance invariance were established. The paper-and-pencil and online data were aggregated, and correlational analyses between the 5 SEI–C factors and the 4 higher order factors of the Motivation and Engagement Scale–University/College (MES–UC) provided evidence of convergent and divergent validity. All but 1 of the 20 correlations were statistically significant, and all correlations were in the expected direction. Overall, there is evidence to suggest the appropriateness of extending the SEI upward for use with college students and for collecting data via online or paper-and-pencil administration (Waldrop et al. 2019Waldrop, D., Reschly, A. L., Fraysier, K., & Appleton, J. J. (2019). Measuring the engagement of college students: Administration format, structure, and validity of the Student Engagement Instrument-College. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 52, 90-107. DOI: 10.1080/07481756.2018.1497429).