Tag: Student engagement

Doubling down to improve school climate

Doubling down to improve school climate

By Andrea Ochoa, Johns Hopkins University

A recent study by Grant and colleagues evaluated the effect of implementing Restorative Practices and Diplomas Now on school climate and teachers’ intentions to leave their school. Restorative Practices refers to a schoolwide shift away from punitive disciplinary methods and toward open dialogue that allows students to make amends by processing how their behavior affects others. Diplomas Now, another schoolwide reform model, focuses on building collaborative teacher teams, providing professional development, using early warning systems to provide students with tiered supports, and incorporating all supports by providing additional human resources to accomplish the work. It was hypothesized that when implemented together, the interventions would have a positive effect on school climate by improving student-teacher relationships, providing students with relevant and engaging learning opportunities, and increasing teacher retention.

The analytic sample for the study included 25 schools from large urban school districts that were randomly assigned to either implement both interventions or continue business as usual (control group). For the school climate measure, students and teachers responded to a survey designed for each stakeholder group. The intervention was implemented over two years. Because whole-school reform is complex and challenging to implement long-term, schools varied in their level of execution. Thus, Grant and colleagues conducted an intent-to-treat analysis. This means that they compared the average effect of intervention schools to the average effect of control schools without considering differences in implementation fidelity.

The study found that students and teachers in schools that implemented both programs reported perceiving a more positive school climate than in the control group (student ES= +0.15, teacher ES= +0.27). However, the study did not find that implementing both programs was associated with teachers’ intentions to continue working in their schools. Although modest, these findings suggest that implementing Restorative Practices in conjunction with Diplomas Now can have a positive effect on student and teacher perceptions of school climate such that teachers and students believe they have the support they need to be successful.

A whole school approach to promote student wellbeing and engagement

A whole school approach to promote student wellbeing and engagement

Marta Pellegrini, University of Cagliari, Italy

A recent study examined the Positive Education Programme (PEP), a whole school approach developed in the Netherlands. The PEP aims to promote a new perspective of teaching approach informed by student wellbeing and engagement. Furthermore, the program focuses on working in teams at the school level to identify shared values, such as kindness and respect.

PEP was evaluated through a quasi-experimental study that matched schools in the intervention group and four schools in the control group. The intervention group received PEP for one school year while the control group continued with its usual practice. Two schools and 401 students were allocated to the control group and two schools and 238 students to the PEP group. The researchers considered student wellbeing and engagement as proximal outcomes and student social-emotional and behavioral functioning as the distal outcome. Wellbeing was measured through a self-reported instrument by the student (KINDL-R), engagement was measured through observations done by the research team using the Leuven Involvement Scale (LIS). The distal outcomes were measured through a teacher-reported instrument, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and a student-teacher relationship questionnaire.

The results showed no significant results for proximal and distal measures. This finding could be due to the small number of schools involved. Although results are not significant on engagement, the proportion of engaged students increased from 48% at the pretest to 52% at the posttest in the PEP group, and decreased from 41% to 18% in the control group.

Excessive use of electronic devices harms children’s school performance

Excessive use of electronic devices harms children’s school performance

By Winnie Tam, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Interactive technology (e.g., Internet, social media, video games, etc.) is an integral part of life for youth. In a recently published research paper in Computers and Human Behavior, Anthony and colleagues report the impact of amounts of interactive technology use on school engagement and academic performance. Two-wave survey data of 9,449 middle school students (mean age = 13.5 years) were collected in 2013-2014 and 2014-15 from the China Education Panel Survey (CEPS), a national survey in China.

Students reported the time spent on their electronic devices for entertainment on school days and on weekends. Academic performance was assessed with midterm scores (Chinese, English and Mathematics), cognitive competency was measured by 20 test items (verbal, figure, quantitative). Truancy, educational aspirations, concentration in class, and boredom at school were reported by students one year later as proxy for school engagement.

After a comparison with those who did not spend any time on interactive technology for entertainment / non-school related activities, the findings showed:

  • Even 1+ hours of usage on school days resulted in performance in academic outcomes and cognitive scores becoming worse.
  • During weekends, using 2+ hours daily resulted in significantly lower Chinese exam scores, and using 4+ hours daily resulted in significantly lower Math exam scores one year later.
  • There was no significant association between weekend usage and English exam scores.
  • The usage of 1+ hours on school days and weekends could lower educational aspirations and increase the likelihood of lacking concentration in class at follow-up.
  • Using 1+ hours on school days or 4+ hours on weekends was significantly associated with greater likelihood of feeling bored at school.
  • However, children who spent less than 1 hour on interactive technology on weekends experienced less boredom at school.

The authors recommended a preliminary guideline with a moderate threshold for technology entertainment which may minimize potential adverse effects:

  • No more than 1 hour daily on school days
  • No more than 4 hours daily on weekends
Effectiveness of instructional coaching on teacher outcomes and student academic engagement

Effectiveness of instructional coaching on teacher outcomes and student academic engagement

By Marta Pellegrini, University of Florence, Italy

A recent randomized evaluation conducted by researchers at  Rutgers University investigated the effects of Classroom Strategies Coaching Mode (CSC) on teacher outcomes and student engagement. CSC is a coaching program for teachers with the aim to increase the use of evidence-based practices in teaching and classroom management. After the identification of practice needs the coaches provide teachers with formative assessments and feedback to support implementation of practices useful to respond to their needs.

The study involved 106 elementary school teachers in 14 high-poverty schools in United States. Teachers were randomly assigned to receive the intervention over 12 weeks or to a waiting list. The authors evaluated the effects of CSC on teacher outcomes, quality of instruction, and behavioral management strategies. This summary does not report teacher outcomes because they were evaluated using measures made by the researchers, which can lead to inflated results. However, student engagement in academic activities is a key indicator of good interactions between teacher and students and quality of instruction, and was also measured in the study. Student academic engagement was observed through the Cooperative Learning Observational Code for Kids (CLOCK), an independent measure. Results showed significant positive effects for student academic engagement (ES = +0.41), implying good teacher-student interaction and quality of instruction.  The findings of this study demonstrate that professional development such as CSC can support teachers and improve student engagement.