Different pathways towards dropout: The role of engagement in early school leaving

  • Lamote C
  • Speybroeck S
  • Van Den Noortgate W
 et al. 
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In this study, we examine the development of student engagement in relation to dropout. We focus on different growth trajectories of engagement between groups of students and on whether these trajectories lead to differences in the survival of the student. The development of behavioural and emotional engagement of 4063 graduates and 541 (11.7%) dropouts is examined from Year 7 to Year 12 and this development is linked to the probability of dropping out in each grade by means of a discrete-time survival mixture model. For emotional engagement, results point to a model with two different subgroups: one group starting at a high level of engagement and following a (relatively) stable pattern and the other group starting at a lower level of engagement and following a decreasing trend. For behavioural engagement, the results indicate that a three-class model showed the best fit: a high and (relatively) stable group, a high and decreasing group and a low and stable group. In terms of dropout, the unstable and low groups demonstrate a significantly higher probability of dropping out, as evidenced in the steep, declining survival curves. Different background variables are included to gain more insight into engagement and dropout, and to predict membership in the low and decreasing class.

Author-supplied keywords

  • discrete-time survival mixture
  • dropout
  • engagement
  • secondary education

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