A daily diary study on associations between school-based ethnic discrimination and school engagement

Sauro Civitillo*, Philipp Jugert, Tiffany Yip, Priscilla Lui, Peter F Titzmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Being the target of discriminatory actions because of their ethnicity can lead ethnic minority students to disengage from school. Research has relied on cross-sectional survey data to show that students who experience more frequent discrimination are more likely to be disengaged from school (i.e., between-person associations). Less is known about whether ethnic discrimination is responsible for day-to-day dynamic fluctuations in school engagement (i.e., within-person associations). The current study focuses on within-person processes to assess how different types (i.e., overt- vs. subtle behavior) and sources (i.e., peer vs. teacher) of school-based ethnic discrimination are linked to behavioral, emotional, and cognitive school engagement at the same- and next-day levels. Participants were secondary school students of Turkish and Arab descent (N = 87, Mage = 15, 62% female) in an ethnically diverse area of north-west Germany. Using an interval-contingent design, participants completed a daily diary once a day over a two week-period using a smartphone application. At the within-person level, multilevel models indicated that more frequent discrimination from teachers was associated with lower levels of cognitive engagement on the same day and emotional engagement on the next day. We found little evidence for links between any discrimination types and sources and behavioral school engagement. This study documents the negative consequences of experiencing school-based ethnic discrimination on student school engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Early online date16 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2024


  • Daily diary
  • Ethnic discrimination
  • Germany
  • School engagement
  • Secondary school


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