Toward a Bioecological Model of School Engagement: A Biometric Analysis of Gene and Environmental Factors


School disengagement is associated with poor academic achievement, dropout, and risk behaviors such as truancy, delinquency, and substance use. Despite empirical research identifying risk correlates of school disengagement across the ecology, it is unclear from which domain these correlates arise. To redress this issue, the current study used intraclass correlation and DeFries-Fulker analyses to longitudinally decompose variance in three domains of engagement (academic, behavioral, and emotional), using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Findings suggest that nonshared environmental factors (that is, environmental contexts and experiences that are unique to each sibling) account for approximately half of the variance in indicators of school disengagement when controlling for genetic influences and that this variance increases as adolescents grow older and rely less on their immediate family. The present study contributes new evidence on the biosocial underpinnings of school engagement and highlights the importance of interventions targeting factors in the nonshared environment.


Maynard, B. R., Beaver, K. M., Vaughn, M. G., DeLisi, M., & Roberts, G. (2014). Toward a bioecological model of school engagement: A biometric analysis examining genetic and environmental factors. Social Work Research, 38, 164–176.