Date of Award

12-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Sydney Brown

Abstract

This study focused on the implementation of teaching practices targeted to impact self-perceptions of competence, belonging, usefulness, potency, and optimism (CBUPO) (Sagor & Cox, 2013) in at-risk students. The literature surrounding CBUPO focuses on strategies for implementation. However, gaps in the literature exist in researching changes in student perception, teacher practice after incorporating these strategies in their classrooms, and strategy impact on academic engagement of at-risk students. The study is driven by the main research question, “in what ways are student self-perceptions of CBUPO impacted by targeted teaching practices?” In order to inform this inquiry, specific teaching strategies were implemented in classrooms targeting concepts of CBUPO, academic engagement were gauged, and changes in teacher practice were investigated.

This action research study included teachers participating in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) designed to inform their practice on specific teaching strategies. Teachers implemented and gauged potential effects on at-risk students’ perceptions of CBUPO. Teacher reflection and evolution of their practice were monitored. Data collection entailed teacher and student reflections, classroom observations, PLC minutes, and pre/postimplementation questionnaires.

Specific teaching strategies were developed, refined, and implemented in the participating PLC teachers’ classrooms. Some strategies were based on the concepts outlined in the literature, while others were refined practices already implemented in classrooms and revised to specifically meet CBUPO. The study found that students are in need of targeted strategies which allow them to participate in creating or bolstering a sense of CBUPO in their academic lives. These targeted strategies include those which tracked their academic performance in the classroom allowing them to monitor their own growth trajectories, assisted in building the capacity for positive self-talk through hearing about positive attributes their peers recognize in them and doing the same in turn, allowing them to experience opportunities to contribute to their community by using the assets they bring to school, and building organizational skills to aid in their future academic success.

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