'They should try to find out what the children like': Exploring Engagement in Learning


Stephen C, Cope P, Oberski I & Shand P (2008) 'They should try to find out what the children like': Exploring Engagement in Learning. Scottish Educational Review, 40 (2), pp. 17-28.

This paper is an account of an exploratory study of the perspectives children and teachers hold about the learning experiences and pedagogical activities which engage primary and secondary school learners. The investigation was prompted by the apparent contrast between the enthusiastic, self-initiated engagement observed in preschool playrooms and the efforts teachers report as necessary to engage older pupils. A review of our interrogation of the literature on disposition to learn and motivation is followed by a description of our empirical work to explore the ways in which the main actors in classrooms make sense of engagement in learning. Our findings suggest that for the children engagement stems from active involvement, enhanced by a perception that there is some scope for freedom of action and opportunity for choice. On the other hand, the perspectives of the teachers were focused on participation in learning activities selected and led by the teacher and carried out in a way which meets the adults’ expectations.

Engagement in learning; Learners' perspectives; Teachers' perspective; Participation Study and teaching; Motivation in education; Teacher-student relationships

Scottish Educational Review: Volume 40, Issue 2

Publication date30/11/2008
Publisher URL