The Roles of Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Teacher-Student Relationships in Student Engagement: Perspectives from Normal Stream Students

Project Number
OER 08/13 CWH

Project Duration
January 2014 - December 2016


Promoting school success and academic achievement, particularly for student populations that are academically at-risk, is an enduring topic of interest within the educational community because of its usefulness as an indicator of student adjustment to school and as a predictor of future success. In line with one of MOE's key priorities to find ways in responding to apparent different learning needs of Normal stream students and to address some identified gaps in research on student motivation and achievement, we propose to examine the contribution of psychological factors attributable to student well-being and adjustment among this student population in Singapore. Unlike motivational theories that attempt to understand 'why' students learn or behave, we approach the problem from a 'student engagement' perspective to describe their feelings, behaviors and thoughts about the quality of their school experiences. We hypothesize that these students have different levels and patterns in their academic, behavioral, cognitive and affective engagement, which may vary in their relationships with adjustment outcomes in the cognitive and affective domains of functioning. Additionally, we postulate that this student population may not be academically and socially homogeneous and may present varying engagement trajectories and differential predictive relations to psychological outcomes. We also posit specific personal (i.e., students' efficacy beliefs in academics and self-regulatory capacity) and interpersonal (i.e., teacher-student relationship) variables as facilitators that contribute to different pathways in the students' cognitive and affective outcomes. Both factors offer potentially useful perspectives to understand teachers' efforts in promoting ongoing engagement with these students. To achieve these study outcomes, a short-term longitudinal research design is proposed and self-report surveys will be used to gather information from 1000 lower secondary students. We aim to produce a more nuanced population-specific engagement model that is of direct relevance and application in Singapore and which will have useful implications for teacher education and professional development. We reason that teachers engaging these students would require a set of dispositional beliefs and skills that are beyond their present pedagogical and instructional practices. The project would yield useful information to assist in re-designing educational practices and interventions. As such, it would provide a fit to existing OER/NIE key research questions that focus on identifying ways of enhancing both student and teacher capacities to allow them to successfully negotiate the 21st century teaching and learning environments.

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