Measurement and Analysis of Student (Dis)engagement in Higher Education: A Preliminary Study

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Akihiro Saito, Hakuoh University, Japan
Michael E. Smith, Aomori University of Health and Welfare, Japan
Published: September 1, 2017

Citation: Saito, A., & Smith, M. E. (2017). Measurement and Analysis of Student (Dis)engagement in Higher Education: A Preliminary Study. IAFOR Journal of Education, 5(2).


Higher education is attracting more participation from an increasingly diverse student body. This diversity invites concerns on effective instructional delivery as the extent of students’ engagement in learning now varies widely. Anecdotes on students’ “undesirable” dispositions in course participation are not uncommon in higher education settings. This project set out to develop a questionnaire, developed for higher education in the Japanese context, on a range of student dispositions. The scale was a five-point Likert instrument designed to interpret learners’ disengagement as an attitudinal disposition. The paper discusses the conceptual contours of disengagement as a student disposition that provided the basis for the context-specific scale items. It reports the procedures taken to obtain the factor structures of the dataset. The questionnaire was administered to 145 engineering students in Japan. An exploratory factor analysis revealed a five-factor solution – lack of commitment, distractedness, lack of preparedness, anti-social orientation, and lack of focus. Avenues for further research are suggested, and implications for practice are discussed.


higher education, learner engagement, student attitudes, rating scales