Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The visions, dispositions and classroom practices of effective alternative educators of at-risk students
by Riegert, James W., Ed.D., Cardinal Stritch University, 2009, 210; 3374440
Abstract (Summary)

Research on effective alternative educators of at-risk students (Kellmayer, 1998) indicates that successful programs have a manageable size, supportive environments, and voluntary student and staff. Additionally, each has independent and autonomous administrative units, student-centered curricula; allow students and staff to have a voice in day-to-day operations, and access to social services. This multiple case study explored the visions, dispositions and classroom practices of six educators of at-risk students identified as effective in the area of alternative education.

The researcher used a multiple case study model methodology. Six subjects in high school classroom teacher positions, all identified as “effective” through (at least) three peer recommendations participated. The researcher observed each subject during classroom instruction twice and interviewed each subject twice over the course of two months in order to gather data on the subjects' perceptions and practices connected to vision, dispositions and classroom practices associated with alternative education. All transcripts and observations were transcribed and analyzed using the constant comparison approach. A confirmatory focus group took place in which the subjects confirmed the data. An independent analysis of data by a separate educator established triangulation.

The emerging data were categorized and integrated into a model profiling effective alternative educators of at-risk students. This model included elements related to vision, disposition, and classroom practices. The subjects identified the importance of their vision about a school and classroom which centers on the students. Personally these teachers stressed their personality dispositions of emotional strength, trust, flexibility, and a democratic approach. In the classroom, the teachers emphasized differentiation for students, bonding with students, a relevant curriculum with connections to tomorrow, and emphasized the importance of new starts when alternative students had difficulty.

Initial teacher training and ongoing professional development efforts designed to improve teachers' visions and dispositions may improve effective instruction at the alternative level. Also, hiring teams could benefit from expanding their criteria of potential candidates to include elements common to the effective alternative educators in this study. Finally, the definition of expert should expand beyond the traditional definitions of the term in educational contexts.

Indexing (document details)
School: Cardinal Stritch University
School Location: United States -- Wisconsin
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Secondary education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Alternative education, At risk, Effective teacher, Effective teaching
Publication Number: 3374440
ISBN: 978-1-109-35409-6
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