Sharing is Caring: Action Research

Last year, I conducted action research for my graduate class Reflective Practice Seminar. Specifically, I looked at student definitions of teacher caring and connections to motivation and engagement. I’m posting it below because action research deserves to read and spread.

Before you bust it open to read, the abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate student definitions of teacher caring and the extent to which these practices affected motivation and engagement. Participants were chosen from a convenience sampling of 131 seventh grade students who attended a suburban middle school in a predominantly middle to upper class community. Participants completed a confidential six question open ended survey in their Language Arts classes, which asked them about their definitions of teacher care and how they described a caring classroom environment. Additionally, students were asked how their perceptions of care affected their interest in class and willingness to complete assignments. Data was analyzed using a mixed methods approach, first looking for emerging themes and categories, then by tallying answers and determining preferences. Findings suggested that students defined teacher care as behaviors that both supported academic success and showed personal care. Students recognized caring environments as those with positive interactions, both between students and between the teacher and students. Students also reported knowing a classroom was caring by observing the physical space the teacher had created. Students also reported that perceiving a teacher cares both positively affected their interest (emotional engagement) and willingness to work (motivation) both in and out of class. As a result, it could be assumed that a caring and supportive teacher and environment are a necessary component in promoting motivation and engagement. It also highlights the importance of creating an environment that balances personal care and academic support to meet the needs of students.

Still interested? Wanna know more? Click the link to read the entire thing:

Cole Final Research Report

Don’t want to read the full 37 pages? Here are some charts and graphs to help you get the gist.

This was my basis for the study. I wanted to better understand why my district and school was so falling behind national averages in these categories (In the action research report, I used the wrong graph, which is somewhat misleading. Ignore that. Below are the more appropriate graphs)

Graph 1

Graph 2.PNG
Figure 1 & 2. Comparisons of national and school specific results from the annual school engagement and satisfaction survey. The most current results show drastic decreases in the percentage of students reporting favorably and were well below national averages, except when asked if they agreed that coursework was challenging, but not interesting.

Research Questions

Is there a connection between student definitions of teacher caring, teacher exhibition of these behaviors, and self-reported student engagement and motivation?

Sub Questions:

1. How do students define caring by their teachers?

2. What specific behaviors do students perceive as caring by their teachers?

3. What do students see as the characteristics of a caring classroom environment?

4. How do students perceive their engagement and motivation are related to teachers’ caring?

5. Is student motivation affected by their perceptions of teacher caring?

Findings

Student definitions of care included both academic care and personal care.  figure 2 Figure 3

Care and Interest

care and interest Care and Motivation In Classcare and motivation in class Care and Motivation Outside of Classcare and motivation out of class

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