To be seen and heard: Enhancing student engagement to support university aspirations and expectations for students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds
British Educational Research Journal
School of Education
Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Australian Government Department of Education, Australian Government
© 2020 British Educational Research Association An important goal for educators is to foster student engagement in order to support a sense of valuing and aspiring to higher levels of education. To value education, students need to perceive that they are welcome, express their ideas and engage meaningfully in each education space they enter. Therefore, ‘pupil voice’ has the potential to become an important influencing factor regarding the degree to which students become self-regulated learners, value education and consequently support their aspirations and build their expectations to go on to university. This study examines the role pupil voice plays in building cognitive and emotional engagement, and whether this, in turn, builds desire for further study and expectations for university entry. Pupil voice is operationalised as the extent to which the student feels heard, involved and supported by the school community. Student survey data was collected (N = 542) from a low socioeconomic status region of the southwest corridor of metropolitan Perth, Western Australia. Structural equation modelling substantiated our serial mediation hypothesis. For students, a discernible pupil voice significantly and positively increased cognitive engagement (self-regulated learning), which increased emotional engagement (valuing education) that, in turn, increased university desires, which led to increased university expectations. The results of this study underscore the importance of policies and practical interventions designed to develop strong student–teacher relationships, where students feel they are both seen and heard.