Investigating the moderating effect of student engagement on academic performance
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The academic performance and success of students are important for both higher education institutions and students. Student engagement has been identified as a crucial factor in academic success. Studies investigating student engagement have typically used self-report measures of engagement, collected at a given point in time. Self-report measures are, however, prone to positive bias (social desirability). In an attempt to overcome these shortfalls, data were collected over three years (2010-2012) in a third-year Business Management module, presented at a South African university (n=380). Academic and behavioural student engagement was measured by assessing academic activities (class attendance and weekly homework assessments), rather than with a self-report measurement scale. Unlike previous studies that correlated student engagement with academic performance, this article argues that student engagement enhances academic performance. It was found that student engagement significantly moderated the relationship between early and late semester assessments of academic performance (semester test and examination marks). It was, therefore, concluded that higher levels of engagement enhance the learning experience and subsequent performance in the module. High levels of student engagement may even lead to higher, than would otherwise be expected, academic performance.