Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Dr. Kathryn Whitener

First Reader

Mr. Joel Stevenson

Second Reader

Mr. Joel Stevenson


I explore three elements of effective education that promote student development. First, a classroom culture that encourages students to be responsible for managing their own learning rather than relying on the teacher can boost student learning. Two ways of accomplishing this are teachers communicating high expectations for students and teachers normalizing the concept of failure by acknowledging that making mistakes is an essential part of learning.

Second, teachers can model the skills and attitudes they hope to cultivate in students. Children learn by observing behavior of parents then imitating; these same learning mechanisms do not stop in childhood but rather continue into adulthood. Students need to observe the thinking patterns of teachers and listen to teachers’ stories of how they implemented life lessons in their own lives. This also applies to studying or technical skills: demonstrate the skill, do not just tell.

Third, effective education can teach students content knowledge while also developing students’ life skills; they are not mutually exclusive. Teachers are directed to teach according to state and national standards, assessed by standardized tests, so teachers feel great pressure to focus solely on content knowledge. Yet, teachers can also teach life skills, like effective study habits and groupwork strategies, alongside the content knowledge. This yields benefits in students learning more content knowledge for the standardized exam and in being more prepared for self-sufficiency in life.

Finally, I present three takeaway recommendations to administrators about how public school districts can implement these elements into professional development for teachers.

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© 2021, Ivan Harjehausen