The social contagion of student engagement in school

Norman Biliwang MENDOZA, Ronnel Bornasal KING

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Student engagement is a strong predictor of academic achievement and overall school success. Much of the research on engagement has focused on the role of personal psychological antecedents and social factors related to one's teachers. Relatively fewer studies have focused on the influence of one's classmates. Drawing on prior work on social contagion, this study aimed to examine whether classmates' engagement influences one's engagement. Questionnaires were administered to 848 secondary school students nested within 30 classes. Two waves of data were collected seven months apart. Multilevel modelling showed that a student's Time 2 engagement was positively predicted by his/her classmates' engagement at Time 1, providing evidence for the social contagion of engagement. These findings held even after controlling for autoregressor effects and other relevant covariates such as demographic factors and achievement goals. Our results suggest that students' engagement in school is contagious and could be transmitted among classmates. Copyright © 2020 School Psychology International.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-474
JournalSchool Psychology International
Issue number5
Early online dateAug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


Mendoza, N. B., & King, R. B. (2020). The social contagion of student engagement in school. School Psychology International, 41(5), 454-474. doi: 10.1177/0143034320946803


  • Social contagion
  • Student engagement
  • Engagement contagion


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