What We're Measuring
Hope, Engagement, Academic Press, Goal Orientation, Belongingness, Autonomy

What is it?
According to hope theory, hope reflects individuals’ perceptions regarding their ability to clearly conceptualize their goals, develop the specific strategies to reach those goals (i.e., pathways thinking), and initiate and sustain the activities in support of those strategies (i.e., agency thinking). According to hope theory, a goal can be anything that an individual desires to experience, create, obtain, accomplish, or become. A goal may be related to grades in school or activities outside of school, but the important thing is that the goal has value to the individual.


What is it?

Engagement refers to the student’s behavior and attitudes in school. Being behaviorally engaged, for example, means that a student works hard, concentrates, and pays attention. When a student is not behaviorally engaged, they are bored, distracted, and doing just enough to get by. Being emotionally engaged means that a student enjoys being in school and learning new things, whereas an emotionally disengaged student feels worried or discouraged and believes that school is not a fun place to be.

Academic Press

What is it?

Academic press is a consistently high expectation on the part of the teachers that students will do their best work. The emphasis is on a press for understanding, rather than a press for performance, which can be detrimental to student achievement. In other words, it is important to maintain a task or mastery goal orientation while pressing for student understanding, which emphasizes deep understanding, rather than lapsing into a performance goal orientation, in which students are pressed simply to obtain a high grade.

Goal Orientation

What is it?

A goal orientation represents the reasons behind a student’s effort to achieve. A “learning” or “mastery” or “task” goal orientation represents a desire to achieve purely for the purpose of obtaining knowledge and increasing skills. In contrast, a “performance” goal orientation represents the desire to succeed in comparison to others, and thus the purpose of all activity in the classroom is not the enjoyment of learning or to satisfy personal interest but to demonstrate superiority or avoid the appearance of failure.


What is it?

Belongingness (sometimes referred to as “relatedness”) is a measure of the depth and quality of the interpersonal relationships in an individual’s life. The need to belong, or the need to form strong, mutually supportive relationships and to maintain these relationships through regular contact, is a fundamental human motivation that can affect emotional patterns and cognitive processes. Supportive relationships can serve to buffer the impact of stressful life events, leading to superior adjustment and well-being.


What is it?

Autonomy refers to the opportunity for self-management and choice. Erik Erikson believed that the need for autonomy is innate in all human beings and that a frustration of this need during childhood or adolescence would lead to maladaptive behavior and neurosis. Subsequently, Richard deCharms argued that all humans strive for “personal causation”, or in other words, to be the origin of their own behaviors. According to deCharms, when an individual is able to make decisions regarding things that affect them, that person is said to have an internal locus of causality. An individual acting under direction from another person has an external locus of causality. He hypothesized that an internal locus of causality would lead to stronger motivation and greater engagement. Richard Steinberg has emphasized adolescence as a time where the need for autonomy, particularly from parents and teachers, is particularly strong.