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The purpose of this study is to explore urban middle school students' thoughts and attitudes about engagement, belonging, use of their funds of knowledge (FoK), and discourse in their science classrooms. Historically, students from this population often feel disengaged and alienated from science, which is why it is important to study their point of view; and, there is currently a dearth of literature that does so (Emdin et al., 2021; Fredricks et al., 2018). The engagement model used includes behavioral, cognitive, affective and social dimensions (Wang et al., 2016). The data was collected in a study that involves collaboration between teachers and researchers, including the development of the science lessons that were taught during data collection. The data included 135 students across seven mid-Atlantic, urban middle school science classrooms in the United States. Students were administered surveys after their lessons, and later participated in focus group interviews collected in a previous study. Descriptive statistics and profile analysis were conducted on our quantitative data, resulting in 3 main profiles of students being identified. The profiles included (1) Above average engagement, FoK and discourse, (2) Below average engagement and FoK with high discourse, and (3) Average engagement and FoK with high discourse. Furthermore, qualitative themes were identified, such as students preferring group work and “hands-on” lessons. Implications for practice and plans for future distribution are discussed.

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Subject Major(s)



Middle school education, educational psychology, FOK, Science learning, Science discourse, Science engagement


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Psychology

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Christine Bae


© The Author(s)

Perspectives of Middle School Students on their Engagement and Relevance in Science