Date of Award

12-15-2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Rhonda Jeffries

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the relationship between student engagement and the perception of academic achievement (learning) by teachers and students in an urban high school social studies course. Over the past several years, educational leaders and researchers have tried to find a cause for a number of issues in public education, including low academic achievement, increasing student drop-out rates and the decline of positive perceptions of schools in general. As a result, there has been increasing research done on the level of engagement that students experience during their schooling. Much of the research has focused on how students are cognitively, socially, and emotionally engaged in school. Often, students and schools that are described as ―at risk‖ are found to have lower levels of student engagement (Yazzie-Mintz, 2009). This fact has been a foundation for the research in this area. This phenomenological study was completed using two qualitative methods: (1) observation of the instructional practices in two classrooms to offer a descriptive overview of the levels of engagement and (2) interviewing two teachers and six students about their experiences in their social studies classrooms. The study was conducted in United States history classrooms with students at the general level (e.g. non-Honors and non-Advanced Placement). This study is of particular significance as it seeks to determine whether engagement and academic achievement are related based on the personal perceptions of teachers and students.

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