Cluster analysis of school emotional engagement among Portuguese children in elementary school

Ana Raquel Ribeiro*, Marta Pedro, Magda Sofia Roberto, Ana Isabel Pereira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The association between school emotional engagement and child mental health and school success highlights the importance of understanding how child–school relations are developed and what factors are related to this affective process during the initial years of schooling so that early intervention is possible. This study examined emotional engagement in Portuguese children attending elementary school and aimed to identify and characterize subgroups based on the child’s school liking and avoidance, using a model–based cluster analysis. In addition, differences between clusters in what concerns individual (self–efficacy, behavioral engagement, externalizing, and internalizing problems), family (parental emotional support), school (teacher-student closeness), and family-school relation (parental school involvement) variables were analyzed. The sample consisted of 394 elementary school children, 353 parents, and 35 teachers using a multimethod assessment (i.e. children, parents, and teachers’ reports). Cluster analysis identified three patterns of emotional school involvement: emotionally involved, emotionally involved with some avoidance, and emotionally ambivalent. Results showed that many children experience ambivalent feelings toward school in the first years of schooling. The emotionally ambivalent group stood out negatively from the other groups concerning self–efficacy, behavioral engagement, externalizing, and internalizing problems. Suggestions for future research and practical implications for schools are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPreventing School Failure
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Mar 2024


  • Children’s adjustment
  • Cluster analysis
  • Ecological approach
  • Elementary school
  • School emotional engagement


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