Engaging in Learning: The Challenges and Consequences for Students from Challenging Backgrounds

  • Clarence Ng
  • Brendan Bartlett
  • Stephen N. Elliott


Acknowledging the critical role of engagement to learning and achievement, this chapter focuses on students at risk of learning disengagement—marginalized students in alternative education settings who have experienced chronic exclusion and disadvantaged students from high-poverty backgrounds. It provides a description of major issues and problems experienced by these students in relation to sustained learning engagement. Special research attention is required to investigate factors and conditions that may contribute to learning engagement and disengagement of these at-risk students. This chapter maintains that these students are capable of learning and engaging when appropriate supports are provided to ensure their opportunity to learn. This chapter ends with a brief discussion of important considerations for researching engagement and disengagement with students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The considerations include engagement fluctuates; engagement has a focal object; engagement is situational and malleable; engagement is purposeful; and engagement is negotiable and often involved power struggles.


Engagement Disengagement Disadvantaged students Educational disadvantage Opportunity to learn 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clarence Ng
    • 1
  • Brendan Bartlett
    • 2
  • Stephen N. Elliott
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Education & ArtsAustralian Catholic UniversityVirginiaAustralia
  3. 3.Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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