Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reveal, empower, and inform: A co-inquiry study of student engagement conducted by middle school students and their principal
by Briggs-Crispin, Debi, Ed.D., Lewis and Clark College, 2016, 351; 10000445
Abstract (Summary)

The problem of middle school disengagement has intrigued and bewildered educators and researchers for years, revealing various contributing factors and possible theories (Eccles, Lord, & Roeser, 1996; Eccles & Midgley, 1989; Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; R. M. Ryan & Deci, 2002). Despite numerous research studies and various recommendations, disengagement still persists. A gap in the literature exists regarding the inclusion of student voice aimed at surfacing contributing factors. This qualitative co-inquiry study addresses this gap by examining adolescent academic disengagement and engagement as voiced by, and investigated with, middle school students. Through co-operative inquiry research this study examines the lived experiences of middle school students to understand the circumstances of their disengagement, reveal contributing factors, and identify potential solutions. Additionally, this study examines how students’ involvement in the co-inquiry process contributes to their own development.

Ten seventh and eighth grade participants engaged with the initiating-investigator, their middle school principal, in a research study utilizing the co-operative inquiry methodology. During a 9-week period of time these students immersed themselves in the co-inquiry process: they posed questions to investigate, participated in the inquiry cycle, shared and reflected on the collective findings, and generated additional questions for further examination. Data were gathered through student-participant journals, artifacts and transcriptions from the weekly sessions, and exit-interviews.

The findings of this study indicate the power co-inquiry with students has to reveal schooling experiences that promote or inhibit their engagement. The student-researchers surfaced important findings regarding the powerful impact the classroom environment, relationships, and instruction have on student engagement and learning. Their voices reveal circumstances educators need to examine in support of modifications to current practice. Additionally, this study reveals the importance of engaging with students in co-inquiry and the profound affect it has on them as learners and individuals.

The inclusion of these important stakeholders?the middle school students themselves—cannot be underscored.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Campbell, Kimberly
Commitee: Feldman, Sue, Galloway, Mollie
School: Lewis and Clark College
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: DAI-A 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Middle School education
Keywords: Co-inquiry, Disengagement, Engagement, Middle school students, Student voice
Publication Number: 10000445
ISBN: 978-1-339-40937-5
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