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Measurement of child engagement in early childhood education and care
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8788-4851
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Children's engagement is a widely studied concept in the field of education, early interventions, and disability research. High engagement among children is consistently associated with desired academic, social, and emotional outcomes. However, the engagement of young children in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings has received less systematic attention. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the measurement of child engagement in ECEC and related conceptualizations of the construct. The thesis includes two empirical studies and two literature reviews on child engagement in ECEC.

The first empirical study validates the Engagement Versus Disaffection with Learning: Teacher Report questionnaire in a Swedish preschool class. The relationship between a questionnaire of school engagement and questionnaire of child engagement was also investigated. Second study is a scoping literature review exploring how child engagement is conceptualized and operationalized in ECEC settings. For the third study, a subset of the identified studies using two or more measures of child engagement was included in an in-depth review exploring how multimethod measurement of child engagement is implemented in ECEC settings and what are the associations between different measures of child engagement. Lastly, a profile analysis of observed momentary engagement and global engagement was performed among a sample of preschool children in Sweden to investigate typical and atypical engagement profiles.

Findings show that observations are the dominant method for measuring young children’s engagement in ECEC, while teacher questionnaires are mostly used for assessing academic engagement in kindergarten classes in US. Self-reports where young children can report about their own engagement are extremely rare. Child engagement can be rated as low and high in value, as a category that either is or is not present, or as a variable that can be qualitatively described and coded on mutually exclusive categories, even within a same study.

Although we discovered a strong correlation between child engagement and school engagement in the Swedish preschool class, suggesting that these constructs are highly similar, literature review indicates that the conceptualization and measurement of school engagement and engagement of young children in ECEC differ in several aspects. Child engagement is dominantly associated with behaviors and seen as contextual, whereas school engagement includes internal aspects and can be seen as a stable tendency or even a trait of the child. Results from empirical studies and the in-depth literature review show that teacher questionnaires of child engagement, even if they nominally assess different aspects of engagement, tend to correlate higher than questionnaires and observations of child engagement. This indicates that questionnaires and observations of child engagement tap into qualitatively different aspects of what is considered engagement. Low global engagement in children is rare and probably more indicative of problems in functioning than low observed engagement. On the other hand, high observed engagement can indicate child’s potential for high engagement within a certain context, partly independent of child’s global engagement. Observations of child engagement are more sensitive to changes induced by interventions, whereas teacher-rated global engagement serves as a stronger predictor of future outcome.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication , 2023. , p. 66
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation, ISSN 1652-7933 ; 043
Series
Studies in Disability Research, ISSN 2004-4887, E-ISSN 2004-4895 ; 114
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-62684ISBN: 978-91-88339-69-0 (print)ISBN: 978-91-88339-70-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-62684DiVA, id: diva2:1805739
Public defence
2023-11-24, Hb116, Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation, Jönköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-10-18 Created: 2023-10-18 Last updated: 2023-11-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Assessing school engagement: Adaptation and validation of “Engagement Versus Disaffection With Learning: Teacher Report” in the Swedish educational context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessing school engagement: Adaptation and validation of “Engagement Versus Disaffection With Learning: Teacher Report” in the Swedish educational context
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2020 (English)In: Frontiers in Education, E-ISSN 2504-284X, Vol. 5, article id 521972Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To follow the trajectories of children's engagement in learning, validated measures of engagement appropriate for different ages and educational contexts are needed. The purpose of this study was to adapt and validate the school engagement questionnaire (Engagement Versus Disaffection with Learning: Teacher Report, EDL) in the Swedish educational context, and to investigate if it assesses the same construct as a measure of engagement used for children of preschool age. After translating the questionnaire to Swedish, cognitive interviews were conducted with six teachers to check for interpretability and relevance of the items. For psychometric validation, teachers of 110 6 to 7-year-old children filled out EDL on two occasions two weeks apart. On the first occasion, they also filled out the Child Engagement Questionnaire, a measure of global engagement intended for children of preschool age. Dimensional structure, convergent validity, test-retest reliability, and internal consistency of EDL were investigated. Factor analysis provided support for differentiating between behavioral and emotional components of school engagement. Measures of school and preschool engagement used in this study correlated highly, which provides support for using them to study the engagement of children as they develop, and their educational contexts change. The subscales of behavioral and emotional engagement showed good test-retest reliability and internal consistency.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers Media S.A., 2020
Keywords
school engagement, assessment, cultural adaptation, convergent validity, reliability
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-50935 (URN)10.3389/feduc.2020.521972 (DOI)000682695400001 ()2-s2.0-85096070373 (Scopus ID)GOA;;50935 (Local ID)GOA;;50935 (Archive number)GOA;;50935 (OAI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-00538Swedish Research Council, 2017-03683European Commission
Available from: 2020-11-04 Created: 2020-11-04 Last updated: 2023-10-18Bibliographically approved
2. Measuring Children's Engagement in Early Childhood Education and Care Settings: A Scoping Literature Review
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Measuring Children's Engagement in Early Childhood Education and Care Settings: A Scoping Literature Review
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2023 (English)In: Educational psychology review, ISSN 1040-726X, E-ISSN 1573-336X, Vol. 35, no 4, article id 99Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this scoping review was to explore operationalizations and related conceptualizations of young children's engagement in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings. The literature search was conducted in March 2021 across ERIC, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Web of Science databases, with the aim of identifying studies where child engagement or involvement in ECEC settings was quantitatively assessed. The search resulted in 5965 articles, of which 286 were included in this review. Data were extracted about engagement conceptualization, theoretical frameworks, study population, study design, and engagement measurement tools and methods. Findings show variations in definitions and measurement of child engagement. Almost two-thirds of the studies lacked an explicit definition of child engagement. Young children's engagement was typically defined as behaviors and interactions with the social and material environment, while involvement was depicted as an internal experience. The most common method of measuring children's engagement in ECEC was observations by an external observer, followed by teacher surveys. Seventy-seven unique established measures of child engagement were identified. About one-third of the identified studies relied on unestablished measures of child engagement. Measures of general child engagement in ECEC had a focus on behavioral aspects of engagement, whereas most measures with a focus on engagement in academic activities also included cognitive and emotional aspects. To advance the research of child engagement in ECEC settings, more attention should be put into clarifying the concept of child engagement in terms of its generalizability, specificity, and temporality. Corresponding operationalizations should be precisely described. Our recommendations also include validating existing measures of child engagement and developing self-reports for young children.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2023
Keywords
Engagement, Involvement, Measurement, Young children, Early childhood education and care
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-62676 (URN)10.1007/s10648-023-09815-4 (DOI)001075150900001 ()2-s2.0-85173769802 (Scopus ID)HOA;;910559 (Local ID)HOA;;910559 (Archive number)HOA;;910559 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-10-17 Created: 2023-10-17 Last updated: 2023-10-23Bibliographically approved
3. Multimethod measurement of child engagement in ECEC – use and association between different measures: A scoping literature review
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Multimethod measurement of child engagement in ECEC – use and association between different measures: A scoping literature review
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-62682 (URN)
Note

Included in doctoral thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2023-10-18 Created: 2023-10-18 Last updated: 2023-10-18
4. Profiles of State and Trait Engagement of Preschool Children
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Profiles of State and Trait Engagement of Preschool Children
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-62683 (URN)
Note

Included in doctoral thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2023-10-18 Created: 2023-10-18 Last updated: 2023-10-18

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