Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Christopher Bogiages


The purpose of this action research study is to examine the challenges a teacher faces when shifting from an essentialist classroom toward a reformed approach in a high school US History class. The action research is taking place at a high school predominantly comprised of minority students who are considered to be of a high level of poverty.

The theoretical framework centers around the belief that a constructivist classroom will increase student engagement while enabling the students enhance their critical inquiry skills. This study’s mixed methods design uses both quantitative and qualitative data in a narrative case study describing the challenges for a teacher tasked with teaching a content heavy course. Data collection included student engagement surveys, as well as classroom evaluations following the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP), describe the challenges of implementing constructionist teaching practices to increase student achievement and engagement. Findings include a positive correlation. The more the classroom teacher followed the guidelines set forth in the RTOP, the more engagement amongst students increased. The challenges presented included students’ lack of ability to communicate academically and obstacles to thinking critically.