This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Contributions of Social Support, Future Orientation and a School Transition to School Engagement Among High School Adolescents




Harrell-Levy, Marinda

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


This study examined how parental involvement, teacher support, future orientation, and a school transition contributed to the academic engagement of high school students. The current study was conducted using a nationally representative sample drawn from the National Educational Longitudinal Study dataset. The sample consisted of 10,364 adolescents from whom data were collected during grades eight, ten and twelve. We investigated how intra-and inter-personal attributes affected their engagement in homework in eighth and tenth grades, as well as growth in engagement from eighth to twelfth grades, above and beyond students’ background factors of race, SES, behavior problems, and grade point average. Results revealed that students’ parental involvement, teacher support, and future orientation were related to school engagement in 8th and 10th grades, but only future orientation is related to growth in engagement. Specifically, greater engagement during the last year of middle school and during high school was associated with higher levels of future orientation and more positive perceptions of social support in eighth and tenth grade. A drop in engagement from eighth to tenth grade was not found. Finally, it was expected that students who made a transition from a private school to a public school during the middle school to high school transition would show the greatest drop in engagement. Given how few students made the public to private school transition (4.8%) and how many students remained in public school from eighth to tenth grade (81%) it was difficult to test this hypothesis. Results indicated there was a modest difference between students who were in public school in both middle and high school compared with those who attended alterative school types in either eighth grade, tenth grade or both. However, our prediction that students who made the transition from private to public school would show a greater decrease in engagement in homework than did students who remained in public or private schools across the transition or who changed from public to private school was not supported. Given imbalance in cells, these results are not conclusive. Altogether, the set of predictors explained a significant portion of the variance in engagement even after controlling for background variables. However, effect sizes were modest. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.