School Psychology Review

Mini-Series: Academic Enablers to Improve Student Performance: Considerations for Research and Practice
Volume 31, Issue 3 (2002 )

Editor: Susan M. Sheridan


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  • Promoting Academic Enablers to Improve Student Achievement: An Introduction to the Mini-Series

    James Clyde DiPerna, Stephen N. Elliott

    pp. 293-297

    Although previous miniseries (e.g., see Carnine, 1994; Skinner & Berninger, 1997) and numerous individual articles (e.g., Daly, Witt,Martens, & Dool, 1997; Powell-Smith, Shinn,Stoner, & Good, 2000) have appeared in School Psychology Review exploring empirical and practical issues regarding academic skills, a focused discussion of academic enablers (or nonacademic skills that contribute to academic success) has yet to occur within the field of school psychology. As such, we have assembled a panel of distinguished researchers to share their perspectives regarding conceptual,empirical, and practical issues related to the construct of academic enablers. In the following paragraphs, we describe how the construct of academic enablers has been defined to date as well as provide a context for how academic enablers relate to academic skills and academic achievement. In addition, we explain the rationale for developing this miniseries and the objectives the included articles collectively address. This introduction concludes with an overview of each of the articles included in this special issue.

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  • A Model of Academic Enablers and Elementary Reading/Language Arts Achievement

    James Clyde DiPerna, Robert J. Volpe, Stephen N. Elliott

    pp. 298-312

    Abstract. This article includes a review of theoretical and empirical models of educational outcomes to identify student attitudes and behaviors that researchers have hypothesized to influence academic achievement. A theoretical model is proposed of the relationships between specific academic enablers (motivation, interpersonal skills, engagement, and study skills) and academic achievement. Structural equation modeling is used to test the fit of this model for two samples of elementary students. The results of these modeling analyses indicate that prior achievement and interpersonal skills influence motivation, which in turn influences study skills and engagement to promote academic achievement. The article concludes with a discussion of practical implications of the tested model as well as necessary directions for future research regarding models of academic enablers and academic achievement.

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  • Motivation as an Enabler for Academic Success

    Elizabeth A. Linnenbrink, Paul R. Pintrich

    pp. 313-327

    Abstract. Student motivation as an academic enabler for school success is discussed.Contrary to many views, however, the authors conceive of student motivation as a multifaceted construct with different components. Accordingly, the article includes a discussion of four key components of student motivation including academic self-efficacy, attributions, intrinsic motivation, and achievement goals.Research on each of these four components is described, research relating these four components to academic achievement and other academic enablers is reviewed,and suggestions are offered for instruction and assessment.

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  • Academic Engagement: Current Perspectives on Research and Practice

    Charles R. Greenwood, Betty T. Horton, Cheryl A. Utley

    pp. 328-349

    Abstract. Classroom behaviors that enable academic learning are the focus of this article. A brief perspective is offered on the development and validation of one enabler—engagement in academic responding—and recent findings are provided of an effort to bridge the gap between research and practice by employing this knowledge in Title 1 elementary schools to improve instruction. In prior research,the authors identified a class of “academic responses” (e.g., reading aloud), positively correlated to student achievement as measured by standardized tests, that were differentially accelerated by instructional situations and interventions, and mediated the relationship between instruction and achievement. Translating these findings to practice within three magnet schools, teachers were provided engagement information on individual students in their classrooms as well as (a) school-wide engagement and classroom behavior norms, including trends over grade levels and type of learner, and (b) instructional situations that accelerated versus decelerated engagement for use in the instructional decision making of teachers.Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

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  • Contributions of Study Skills to Academic Competence

    Maribeth Gettinger, Jill K. Seibert

    pp. 350-365

    Abstract. Study skills are fundamental to academic competence. Effective study skills are associated with positive outcomes across multiple academic content areas and for diverse learners. The purpose of this article is to describe an information-processing perspective on the contribution of study skills to academic competence,and to identify evidence-based strategies that are effective in helping students to improve their study skills. Using an information-processing framework,study skills are grouped into four clusters: repetition-based skills, procedural study skills, cognitive-based study skills, and metacognitive skills. Key elements of effective study-strategy training are delineated.

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  • Peer Relationships and Collaborative Learning as Contexts for Academic Enablers

    Kathryn R. Wentzel, Deborah E. Watkins

    pp. 366-377

    Abstract. In this article it is argued that peers have the potential to provide contexts for learning that can have a profound impact on the development of students’ academic enablers. Based on work on social support and belongingness, ways in which being accepted by peers can motivate students to engage in learning activities and to display socially appropriate forms of behavior are discussed. Using a Vygotskian perspective, ways are described in which peer collaborative contexts can promote academic engagement as well as provide a supportive structure for the development of specific problem-solving skills. The implications for teachers and practitioners of facilitating positive peer relationships and of using social skills training programs for developing academic enablers are discussed.

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  • Commentary: The Centrality of the Learning Context for Students' Academic Enabler Skills

    Sandra L. Christenson, Amy R. Anderson

    pp. 378-393

    Abstract. According to DiPerna and Elliott (2002), academic competence comprises both academic skills and academic enablers. Academic enablers, which are within student variables, are essential for understanding student achievement; however,missing from this picture is the influence of context on the development and application of students’ academic enabler skills. In this article, a theoretical framework for considering the direct and indirect effects of important contexts (e.g.,child, school, family, and peers) on student performance and how these contexts change over time is described. Also, the literature regarding social and emotional influences on student performance is reviewed. Finally, the implications for assessment and intervention practices and directions for future research are discussed.

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  • Commentary: Academic Enablers and School Learning

    Timothy Z. Keith

    pp. 394-402

    Abstract. This commentary presents academic enablers within the broader, overlapping context of school learning theory, including the theories of Carroll,Harnishfeger and Wiley, Walberg, and others. Multivariate models are needed to understand the influences of academic enabler and school learning variables on learning, as well as the influences of these variables on each other. The overlapping nature of constructs in different models and research, although potentially confusing, also leads to a better understanding of the nature and influence of these constructs. Academic enabler/school learning models, although complex, are also practical. They can lead to an understanding of the variables that should be assessed in preparation for developing a learning intervention, the relative likely influence of different interventions, and the likelihood that different interventions will work separately or in concert. Many of the articles in the miniseries also provide insights into how to improve these school learning/academic enabler variables,thus improving learning.

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  • Self-Concept of Students With Learning Disabilities: A Meta-Analysis

    George G. Bear, Kathleen M. Minke, Maureen A. Manning

    pp. 405-427

    Abstract. Educators often assume that the self-concept of children with learning disabilities (LD) is less favorable than that of children without LD. The present study, a meta-analysis of 61 studies of self-concept, was conducted to examine this assumption. Results showed that children with LD perceived their academic ability less favorably than their non-LD peers. In other domains of self-concept,however, group differences were less clear. In contrast to a previous meta-analysis(Chapman, 1988), the results of this study indicated no differences in self-concept as a function of special education setting. Implications for research and practice in school psychology are discussed.

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  • Is American Student Behavior Getting Worse? Teacher Ratings Over an 18-Year Period

    Thomas M. Achenbach, Levent Dumenci, Leslie A. Rescorla

    pp. 428-442

    Abstract. Scores for academic performance, adaptive functioning, DSM-oriented scales, and empirically based scales on the Teacher’s Report Form (TRF) were compared for demographically similar samples of 7- to 16-year-old students assessed in 1981, 1989, and 1999, and for randomly selected population-based national samples assessed in 1989 and 1999. Problem scores increased from 1981 to 1989 and decreased from 1989 to 1999, with all effect sizes being very small.Problem item scores correlated from .95 to .99 between assessment years, indicating very high stability for the assessment procedure over 8, 10, and 18 years. Gender differences were much larger than most other demographic effects, but did not affect the comparisons between years.

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  • Guidelines for Authors; Call for Papers; Accepted Manuscripts

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