Understanding Student's Perspecitves Toward Learning in Expanded Learning Time Reform
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Susan Gracia
Dr. Peter Adamy
Dr. Carolyn Panofsky
Learning takes time, but providing time does not in itself ensure that learning will take place (Carroll, 1963; Stallings & Kaskowitz, 1974; Anderson, 1981; Aronson, Zimmer & Carlos, 1999; Berliner, 1990; Kidder et. al., 1975). We need to examine more closely how students are using time and which conditions maximize student engagement. As schools continue to struggle with meeting state and national standards using traditional educational pedagogies and structures, whole school reforms are often implemented to improve student learning and success. While several studies have attempted to begin this exploration, few, if any, actually ask students about their experiences, perspectives, and attitudes in reformed schools. Yet, student voice is increasingly identified as an essential component of school reform by implementation researchers, constructivists, and critical theorists. This study explores 8th graders’ perspectives toward learning in a school which implemented Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Reform, adding 30% more time to the school day, compared with a comparison group of 8th graders in the same school district with a traditional school day. A dominant sequential, or exploratory mixed methods approach, using principal interviews (N=2), student focus groups (N=4), and Time for Learning student survey (N=226), based primarily on scales from the School Success Profile (SSP) (Bowen & Richman, 2008) were utilized to explore students’ perspectives on time and learning. Results from the focus groups indicate that students in both schools reported teacher support and peer to peer collaboration opportunities are important. Focus group results also indicate that students in both schools report students’ opinions and perspectives are not valued. Students in the ELT school reported more academic relevancy or real world application of the curriculum. Students report wanting more activities and electives which take time, but do not actually want to be in school longer. Multiple Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) results confirmed that students in the ELT school had significantly different perspectives than students in the comparison school. Specifically, students in the ELT school scored significantly higher on the Student Engagement scale of the SSP than students in the comparison school.
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