Promoting student success: students' perceptions of the factors that influence their engagement at a Mexican university
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Student success is a major concern of the higher education community. To increase it, students, parents, teachers, and educational leaders have concentrated on improving the performance of the factors which affect student engagement and promote better learning and persistence—and, ergo, greater student success. The explore this phenomenon, this study has used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, especially Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA). From the contributions of highly engaged students in focus groups, personal interviews, and surveys it was possible to: identify the factors which influence the level of student engagement, show their relative level of influence, measure their performance (in the particular case of the participants and the site of the study), demonstrate how they are interrelated, and learn student perceptions of them. The results indicate that among the nine factors that affect student engagement, the two which contribute most to the level of student success are related to them personally: personal aspects and goals (values, interests, personal and study habits, behaviors in and out of class, desire for improvement, clear and ambitious goals, commitment to goals). For successful students, both factors have high relative influence and high real performance. The diagram which shows the relation among the nine factors further revealed that the most fundamental prerequisites to student success are parents and teachers who influence them fundamentally by their instruction, companionship, encouragement, expectations, and support. One product of the research is a grounded model of student engagement, a description of the engaged student, and a tool (the Matrix of Engagement Level) to measure the level of a student’s engagement. Further, a list of recommendations for the site of the study was created to improve student performance there.