Daily interest, engagement, and autonomy support in the high school science classroom

Erika A. Patall, Ariana C. Vasquez, Rebecca R. Steingut, Scott S. Trimble, Keenan A. Pituch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The current investigation examined relations between high school students' daily and cumulative situational interest in science class and their engagement, as well as their perceptions of the motivational climate of the classroom. Two-hundred and eighteen high school students in 43 science classes participated in a diary study in which students provided reports of their classroom experiences after each class session for a six-week instructional unit. Multilevel modeling results suggested that interest during science class and behavioral engagement declined over the course of the unit. Daily and cumulative interest during science class predicted behavioral engagement (working hard, participating, and paying attention), cognitive engagement, and agentic engagement. Students' interest during science class also predicted perceptions that teachers engaged in the motivationally supportive practice of emphasizing student choice during the same and the following class day. Results suggested that the links between interest with working hard and perceptions of choice provision were stronger early in the instructional unit compared to later in the unit. Moreover, some variation was found in these relations depending on students' gender and ethnicity, as well as depending on the course content and level. Implications for practice, theory, and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-194
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Choice provision
  • Diary method
  • Engagement
  • Motivation
  • Situational interest
  • Teaching practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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