Investigating the multidimensionality of engagement: Affective, behavioral, and cognitive engagement across science activities and contexts

Adar Ben-Eliyahu, Debra Moore, Rena Dorph, Christian D. Schunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reciprocal relations of motivation with affective, behavioral, and cognitive engagement were tested. Engagement, conceptualized as processes that indicate productive participation in learning activities, was measured using the Activity Engagement Survey with students participating in a variety of activities in both schools and a museum. The multifaceted nature of engagement and the consistency of this structure across contexts and activities was examined over six different science activities on six different days within classrooms (Study 1, sixth graders from 10 different schools) and over two different science museum exhibits in one day (Study 2, fifth graders). These age groups were chosen because they are a pivotal time in science motivation. A series of confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to investigate the nature of affective, behavioral, cognitive, and overall engagement. A bifactor model with both affective and combined behavioral-cognitive factors along with an overall engagement factor had the best fit across all eight activities. Reciprocal relations between motivation (measured at Time 1 and Time 3) and engagement (at Time 2) were tested using Structural Equation Modeling. Results indicate that, in school settings (Study 1), self-efficacy was negatively related and mastery goals were positively related to affective engagement, whereas overall engagement predicted all forms of motivation. In the museum exhibits (Study 2), self-efficacy was positively related to overall engagement and performance-approach goal orientations were positively related to behavioral-cognitive engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-105
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Affect
  • Behavior
  • Bifactor model
  • Cognition
  • Engagement
  • Model testing
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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