Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joyce Many

Second Advisor

Jami Berry

Third Advisor

Laura May

Fourth Advisor

Robert Michael


Educators have been challenged for many years to engage their students, but often students still seem to be disengaged (Klem & Connell, 2004). Research indicates student engagement is critical to student achievement and success in school (Appleton, 2008; Connell, Spencer, & Aber, 1994; Easton, 2008; Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). Student engagement is imperative in all subject areas, yet, after considering the research, writing is a particularly significant school subject that may be impacted by student engagement.

Considering the research on engagement and the need to improve students’ literacy achievement, there is a compelling reason to know how and when students are engaged in writing. The aim of this study was to investigate the intersection of engagement theory and students’ engagement. Specifically, this inquiry focused on the students’ perceptions of engagement while identifying indicators of engagement and factors affecting engagement related to the student, task, or context within the writing classroom. My study addressed the following questions: (a) How can student’s engagement in a writing classroom be described? and (b) What are students’ perceptions of their engagement in a writing classroom?

The findings of this study prompt educators to consider the importance of focusing on engagement in our classrooms. Students identified factors that promoted their engagement: importance of choice, making connections and teacher modeling. This study also found engagement and attitude influenced each other resulting in a positive classroom environment. Finally, this research identified the significance of student voice and how students are able to ascertain their level of engagement, if asked.