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Well being, Interpersonal relationship, Academic persistence,Student engagement, Evaluation research, Cognitive measurement, Online surveys, Cognitive measurement, Reliability, Validity, Secondary education


Prepared for the South Australian Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS) by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).


The Engagement Matrix (EM) was designed by the Department of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia to measure engagement levels of students enrolled in the Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN)/ Flexible Learning Options (FLO) program once a term. Innovative ICANs work with young people (year 6-age 19), families, schools, community groups, businesses and different levels of government to encourage young people to finish their secondary education. Flexible Learning Options (FLO) was first introduced in 2006 as an enrolment option in ICAN schools which is funded by DECS. FLO is an approach that is more flexible than the traditional full-time enrolment in school to support young people most at risk to successfully complete their secondary education (DECS, 2010). In its current form, the EM is a high-level inference instrument that requires raters to provide one overall rating of a student’s engagement in (a) well-being, (b) relationships and (c) learning in five categories. These categories’ previous labels of ‘Resistant’, ‘Disinterested’, ‘Compliant’, ‘Enthusiastic’ and ‘Proactive’ have been changed to ‘Significantly disengaged’, ‘Partly disengaged’, ‘Moderately engaged’, ‘Highly engaged’ and ‘Very highly engaged’. This report describes an initiative to ascertain the effectiveness of the labels of the EM. To this end, an online survey was designed to obtain information on the levels of engagement and disengagement current and potential users of the EM associated with different labels (e.g. ‘Disinterested’, ‘Active’) and different intensifiers (e.g. ‘Very’, ‘Moderately’) as well as a combination of intensifiers and labels as currently proposed in the EM. Cognitive interviews were conducted to inform the online survey.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Place of Publication

Adelaide, South Australia


Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)

Geographic Subject

South Australia

Previous Versions

Mar 7 2016

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