What Matters for Urban Adolescents’ Engagement and Disengagement in School: A Mixed-Methods Study

Jennifer A. Fredricks, Alyssa K. Parr, Jamie L. Amemiya, Ming Te Wang, Scott Brauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study uses a mixed-method sequential exploratory design to examine influences on urban adolescents’ engagement and disengagement in school. First, we interviewed 22 middle and high school students who varied in their level of engagement and disengagement. Support from adults and peers, opportunities to make choices, and external incentives aligned with greater engagement. In contrast, a strict disciplinary structure, an irrelevant and boring curriculum, disengaged peers, and lack of respect by adults coincided with greater disengagement. From these interviews, we tested whether these factors were statistically significant predictors of engagement and disengagement in a sample of 611 middle and high school students. In the majority of models, these predictors were significantly related to engagement and disengagement in the expected direction. Implications of findings for educational practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-527
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was supported by the National Science Foundation Grants 1315943 and 1561382.


  • disengagement
  • engagement
  • mixed-methods
  • motivation
  • urban schools


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