What Does an Engaged Preschool Classroom Look Like? Teachers’ Conceptions of Student Engagement- Voices from Malaysia

Armeetaa Kaur Mallanhanse, Amrita Kaur, Rosna Awang Hashim, Mohammad Noman
page. 67~90 / 2023 Vol.17 No.1


School engagement is at the heart of academic success both for teachers and students at all levels of education. Conceptualizing and examining preschool students' engagement is a complex task, as the engagement of preschool students may vary based on the school and cultural context. Using an exploratory qualitative research design, the current study investigates the conception of preschool students’ engagement in the Malaysian context. Seven preschool teachers with significant teachingexperience recruited through purposive sampling participated in semi-structured face-to-face in-depth interviews to share their visions of students’ engagement. Inductive data analysis suggested that the teachers' conceptions of students’ engagements were grounded in students' behavioral (responsiveness, commitment and effort, and body language) and emotional (positive reactions and positive social sense) indicators leaving out cognitive indicators.While the findings provide new, context-specific insights into the conceptualization of students’ engagement from collectivist cultures, which uphold respect, compliance, self-control, and order in the classroom settings, it shows teachers’ conceptions of engagement are mapped on macro-level observation and completely ignore the micro-level responses of students. The findings discuss the malleable and culturally sensitive nature of school engagement at the preschool level. It discusses its implication for teachers' development and students’ engagement at the preschool level.

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