Using bounded case study methodology, I conducted an examination of strengths-focused efforts to improve the collaborative work of teachers and the academic achievement of ninth-grade students in an urban-suburban high school. Through a semi-structured interview protocol, 6 study subjects, including teachers, department heads, and program-level administrators, shared their insights and experiences related to implementing a strengths-focused approach to teaching and learning. Interviews were digitally recorded and the full transcript of each interview constituted the data set for the study. Iterative distillation of the data yielded a number of emergent themes: (a) strengths, including implementation issues and how to capitalize on using a strengths-focused approach; (b) time, including the concepts of face-time, time as a resource, and competing priorities; (c) teaching and learning, including an examination of the desire for “tangible outcomes” that resulted from utilization of strengths-focused approach with students; (d) assessment; (e) student and teacher efficacy; and (f) distributed leadership schema and a discussion of the importance of establishing trusting relationships to enable leadership for change to take place. Several of the research subjects voiced opinions that strengths awareness was equally as important for adults as for students, citing that it supported improved communication between colleagues and a clearer sense of direction in group work. Furthermore, teachers indicated that the focus had helped them identify individual student strengths which they used to plan differentiated learning experiences for their students. The study supported the potential for the idea that students might be afforded options for how they might best learn based on their unique strengths and proclivities. The research also indicated that strengths-focus has the potential to help make school more relevant for students who may not have experienced success in school and therefore had seen little use in school as an experience that would positively affect their lives. Finally, the research supported the potential of strengths-focused instruction as the new schema of working and learning together for students and adults.
Keywords: Strengths, Leadership, Time, Assessment, Efficacy, Relationships, Skills, Content
|Advisor:||Rademaker, Linnea L.|
|Commitee:||Coley, Chris, Kemeny, Vera, Millies, Suzanne|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Secondary education|
|Keywords:||Efficacy, Leadership, Relationships, School improvement, Skills, Strengths, Strengths focus, Time|
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