Teacher Behavior, Task Engagement, and Student Achievement: A Path Analytic Study
The technique of path analysis was used to test the role of student task engagement as a mediating process variable linking teacher behavior and student achievement in math and social studies classes. Forty teacher-interns and their respective elementary level classes participated in the study. Two measures of teacher behavior and a measure of student task engagement were obtained during lessons from two-week instructional units designed specifically for the study. Achievement was defined as the class mean residualized gain score, residualizing student post- test scores on both content pretest performance and scores on relevant subtests of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills. Results suggest different causal paths from teacher behavior to achievement in the two contexts. In social studies classes, task engagement emerged as a mediating variable as hypothesized, while in mathematics classes it played no causal role in achievement. Results were interpreted as an example of the added information obtained from testing path models rather than examining only zero-order correlations.