Publication Date

Fall 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jenni Lynne Redifer (Director), Tony Norman, and Gary Houchens

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The present study investigates the effect of engagement as a mediating variable on the relationship between personalized learning and achievement. Personalized learning involves instruction and learning that is individualized to the student by means of several components. These components include goal-oriented mastery learning, flexible pacing, ongoing formative assessment feedback, and the incorporation of personalized information. The literature suggests that each of these components, both individually and as a whole, have a positive correlation with achievement. Engagement may mediate this relationship given that it involves the students’ willingness to involve themselves in the learning process through the use of certain behavioral, emotional, and cognitive processes. Previous research indicates that these types of engagement have a mild to moderate effect on achievement as well. In addition, some behaviors pertaining to engagement overlap with components of personalized learning. However, previous research in the areas of either personalized learning or engagement only consider these variables at the individual or class level, leaving school wide plans for improving personalized learning and/or engagement lacking. As such, this study utilizes mediation analysis to determine the extent to which engagement mediates the nature of the personalized learning-achievement relationship for data at the school level. Results from a survey of (n = 111) schools participating in a program to improve both engagement and personalized learning indicate that personalized learning has no significant relationship with either engagement or achievement when analyzed at the school level. However, engagement is significantly and positively correlated with achievement at the school level. Furthermore, engagement does not serve as a significant mediator of the relationship between personalized learning and achievement. Therefore, engagement, when considered as a meta-construct, merits attention from schools and teachers as a means to affect school wide achievement. This study also indicates that components of personalized learning and/engagement may vary in their effect on achievement and also merit further study.


Curriculum and Instruction | Secondary Education