Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure Multidimensional, Instruction-Specific Student Engagement in Undergraduate Mathematics



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This study aimed to develop and provide initial validity evidence for an instrument to measure multidimensional, instruction-specific engagement in undergraduate mathematics-based classes. Multidimensionality included three engagement dimensions: behavioral, cognitive, and emotional (Fredricks et al., 2004). Instructional specificity included four instruction types: lecture, whole-class interaction, individual work, and group work. The study design had several phases. First, I reviewed the literature and conducted exploratory interviews to inform item writing. Then, an iterative cycle of pretesting via cognitive interviews, evaluating via expert reviews, and revising was implemented. Finally, the instrument was field-tested. Results provided initial validity evidence for combining multidimensionality and instructional specificity in engagement measurement. Yet, changes to the instrument’s internal structure occurred. First, among behaviors in whole-class interaction, active behaviors separated out from passive behaviors. Second, excluding active behaviors in whole-class interaction, behavioral and cognitive engagement dimensions were not differentiated empirically and, therefore, were collapsed. Thus, the final version of the instrument measures nine multidimensional, instruction-specific engagement constructs. Additionally, I found that student engagement may be better conceptualized as a formative construct rather than a reflective construct. The instrument is designed to enable educators to identify how and where students are not engaged. This information would allow educators to develop more targeted and, therefore, more efficient interventions. The instrument is also designed to be used in research that aims to inform the development of such interventions. In particular, it will enable researchers to determine which instructional factors affect specific types of engagement and how these factors exert their influence.