Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Qualitative Case Study of Teacher Perceptions of the Motivation of Students in Humane Education
by O'Connor, Julie Bolkin, Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2018, 135; 10744993
Abstract (Summary)

Motivation and engagement helps students succeed in school. When students are apathetic and not invested in their lessons, they may experience severe academic problems. Character education is the explicit instruction of positive values and has been found to improve student motivation and engagement. A type of character education is humane education. The purpose of humane education is to integrate animal-related curricula to foster compassion in children’s relationships with both animals and people. In this qualitative phenomenological case study, research was conducted to examine the problem of not knowing what aspects of humane education most contributed to student motivation and engagement. The purpose of this study was to explore teacher perceptions regarding how humane education, specifically animal well-being, influenced student motivation and engagement. Eight humane education teachers with a minimum of two years’ experience teaching humane education were individually interviewed to better understand the most effective ways to use this curriculum to positively impact student motivation and engagement. Semi-structured interviews occurred in person and via telephone. Participants included four teachers from New Jersey, three from New York, and one educator from California. Respondents had both primary and secondary teaching experience in both public and private schools. All participants perceived humane education as being particularly motivating and engaging for their students as opposed to other curricula, and attributed student interest is enhanced because of children’s connection to animals. Six particular themes became apparent from the participants’ perceptions of humane education as being most impactful on positive student motivation and engagement in their learning. These themes involved: 1) teaching techniques, 2) safe topics and species, 3) food and farm animals 4) student and teacher connection, 4) age, gender, and culture of student, 5) administrator, colleague, and parent reaction, and 6) with companion and farm animals being perceived as engendering the most student motivation and engagement. Recommendations for future research include using student participants in a pretest-posttest design to determine if humane education helped them learn more effectively and conducting a quantitative examination of student performance as related to specific components of humane education. The results of this case study could inform educators when choosing effective curriculum and classroom materials for the purposes of assisting student motivation and engagement. The results could also be implemented in the ways educators integrate animals across school disciplines and how teachers could effectively incorporate humane education to motivate and engage their students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Riggle, Andy
School: Northcentral University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology, Instructional Design, Curriculum development
Keywords: Animals, Character education, Curriculum, Humane education, Student engagement, Student motivation
Publication Number: 10744993
ISBN: 9780355660531
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