Not academic enough? Enjoyment of physical education and the arts and school engagement in early and middle adolescence

Shirley Gray, Enrique Enrique García Bengoechea, Lisa Lorenzino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


School engagement during adolescence is an important personal asset for youth development. While multiple factors contribute to student engagement at school, research on the role of curricular factors is scarce. Based on a secondary analysis of data from Cycle 3 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, this study examined the associations of Canadian students’ enjoyment of arts education, language arts, mathematics, physical education, and science with their engagement at school during early and middle adolescence, accounting for relevant demographic, family, peer, school, and community factors. All things considered, high levels of enjoyment of physical education and arts education were among the top factors making a contribution to school engagement in both periods of adolescence, and enjoyment of physical education was actually the strongest contributor to school engagement in early adolescence. The findings suggest that curricular factors, and in particular the quality of students’ experiences in physical education and arts education, may be more important than previously recognized in terms of understanding and promoting school engagement in early and middle adolescence. Specifically, the findings provide initial evidence that a positive experience in physical education and arts education can contribute to student engagement and valuing of school. In addition, the findings provide further support for the role of participation in extracurricular activities and after school programs in fostering a sense of connectedness to and endorsement of school values and outcomes during the developmental periods considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-309
JournalRETOS: Nuevas tendenies en Educacion Fisica Deportes y Recreacion
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • School engagement
  • extracurricular activities
  • arts education
  • physical education
  • curriculum


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