High school students' academic buoyancy: Longitudinal changes in motivation, cognitive engagement, and affect in English and math

Peggy Ann Barnett, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to extend the research on academic buoyancy by investigating how profiles of buoyancy in the domains of English and mathematics changed over the course of an academic year, and how they ultimately affect students' academic achievement in those domains. Participants included 153 ninth and tenth grade female high school students attending an urban, private, high school in the metropolitan New York City area. Students completed a web-based survey four times during the 2009–2010 academic year. Measures were adapted from established instruments (e.g. PALS, MSLQ, see Zusho & Barnett, 2011) and included indices of motivation (i.e., mastery goals, task-value, expectancy for success, performance- avoidance goals, affect (i.e., anxiety), and self-regulation (i.e., rehearsal, organization, metacognitive self-regulation, academic procrastination). At each administration, students were asked to complete the measures twice, once in reference to their English class and once in reference to their mathematics class. Analyses were conducted in four phases. First, a series of cluster analyses were conducted to determine whether or not distinct profiles of academic buoyancy could be established. Second, an investigation was undertaken to determine whether the same cluster solution could be replicated across the remaining three waves of data. Third, the predictive utility of the cluster groupings on academic achievement was explored, and finally, the similarity of patterns on academic achievement across subject domains was investigated. In general, the same four-group cluster solution was replicated across waves and across subject domain, with the exception of the final wave, where a three-group cluster solution emerged. Based on the profiles, it was determined that the groups varied in terms of their level of academic buoyancy from high to low. Follow-up analyses further revealed a main effect of the cluster solutions on academic achievement. Overall, students considered to be the most academically buoyant obtained the highest grades. Taken together, the findings highlight the possible advantages of using person-centered analyses to investigate the additive impact of motivational, cognitive, and affective variables on achievement. Implications for instruction and psychological practice are also discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Secondary education|Mathematics education|English as a Second Language

Recommended Citation

Barnett, Peggy Ann, "High school students' academic buoyancy: Longitudinal changes in motivation, cognitive engagement, and affect in English and math" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3494306.