Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Suha Tamim

Abstract

The purpose of this action research was to investigate the relationship between student engagement and student-led discussions for middle school students, focusing specifically on seventh graders. There was increased student engagement for the students that participated in the discussions. The study was based on both cognitive and social constructivism, where students are developing their critical thinking as well as socializing with their peers. This research explored three questions related to the impact of student-led discussions. The first question looked at how discussions impacted student engagement and involvement. The second question centered on students’ willingness to voice their ideas. Finally, the last question addressed the academic impact of the discussions. During this six-week intervention, the lessons were scaffolded to allow the students more independence in their learning. The discussions started as whole group and then at Week 3, the students were put into small groups of four.

Using both quantitative and qualitative data showed significant growth in students’ engagement in the discussions. The students asked clarifying questions and learned how to keep a conversation flowing. There was not as strong of a connection with the students’ willingness to voice their opinions. However, there was an increase in academics due to the student-led discussions. These types of discussions allowed students to be in control of their own learning and to collaborate with their peers. They were able to reflect on their actions as well as their peers to determine their strengthens and struggles. Student-led discussions provided students with a more interactive experience in the classroom.

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