Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Lucas Lima de Vasconcelos


The purpose of this action research was to explore how incorporating choice boards as a tool for personalized learning in social studies influenced sixth-grade students to engage in the classroom. Engagement in the classroom is necessary for students to meet educational goals. To engage in learning, students need intrinsic motivation to encourage them to strive to meet their potential. Research in personalized learning shows students who are provided opportunities for “voice and choice” show higher signs of achievement in meeting their goals (Pane et al., 2017). This action research study was guided by two research questions that explored the effect of personalized learning in the social studies classroom. The first question addressed in what ways and to what degree personalized learning would affect sixth-grade students’ motivation to engage in social studies. Additionally, the second research question investigated what ways and to what degree personalized learning impacted students’ attitudes toward learning social studies.

This action research study explored the learner-demonstrated principle with teacher-created choice boards aligned to the social studies standards. Participants in this study were 17 sixth grade students in a social studies class at a suburban public middle school. The intervention, teacher-created choice boards was a form of personalized learning used to motivate student engagement and attitudes towards learning social studies. Quantitative data collected included findings from pre- and post- surveys using the Student Engagement Inventory-Elementary as well as Instructional Materials Motivation Survey. Qualitative data was collected from teacher-created exit tickets and focus group interview responses. Convergent parallel mixed methods were used to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data separately and then integrate the results for the comprehensive findings (Creswell & Creswell, 2018; Mertler, 2017). The comprehensive findings suggested using personalized learning with sixth grade students can increase participants’ motivation to engage and improve attitudes towards learning social studies. Implications, limitations, and future research are discussed.


© 2022, Deborah B. Malinoski