Effective Strategies to Increase Student Learning Dissertation

Introduction

The study will examine whether prolonged time in school will help in improving student learning and academic performance in schools. Significant evidence shows that extension of school time has considerable impacts on student learning, thus it is an effective strategy of improving academic performance in schools.

Since academic performance of students has been dwindling with time, Hewlett (1999) asserts, “extended school time has extremely positive effects on the academic performance of participating students” (p.245). Private schools have extended school time, which has resulted to improved performance of students unlike in public schools where school time is conventional.

Hence, for school districts to improve learning and academic performance of students, they should consider extending school time. Schools that have extended school time perform better than the ones with conventional school time. Usually, schools have different extended school times depending on management policies of school districts.

Given that school districts perform poorly, this study will examine different school districts with the aim of establishing whether prolonged school time has any significant influence on student learning, academic performance, instructional strategies, and school curriculum.

In this view, the study proposes that extension of school time in a day will increase student performance in school districts and thus improve students’ overall academic performance.

Problem Statement

As academic performance of students has been gradually deteriorating in the past decade, educational policymakers have proposed that extension of school time is an effective strategy of improving academic performance and achievement in schools.

According to Patall, Cooper, and Allen (2010), research findings from comprehensive literature reviews since 1985 have revealed that extending school time is an effective means of increasing student learning.

Differences in academic performance among school districts and private schools are attributed to variation in extended school time. Although many schools have attempted to extend their schooling time, some have not succeeded for they believe they have provided enough time for students to learn. Schools with conventional learning periods argue that quality overrides quantity in terms of learning time.

However, a study done by Ross, McDonald, and Alberg (2007) indicates that students in schools that have extended time perform better when compared with students in schools that have conventional learning period.

The findings partly explain why there is a variation in academic performance of students in different schools in the United States. Therefore, there is a need to prolong daily school time so that students can get enough time to study in schools.

The need to extend school time has elicited a raging debate in the United States. Proponents argue that extending school time will help students to improve their academic performance, since they will have ample time with their teachers.

President Barrack Obama argues, “Kids in the U.S. spend too little time in classrooms thus putting them at a disadvantage when competing with students in other countries” (Corbin, 2009). In his argument, the president suggests that extending school time is a way of improving learning and performance of students. In contrast, critics argue that extending school time has serious economic implications.

Extension of school time will increase the costs of running schools, reduce gains from local tourism, and affect summer camps. Moreover, critics argue that extending school time has no significant impact on educational performance or achievements of students. In spite of the debate, school districts have been extending school time to improve academic performance of students.

Prince (2004) states, “to increase academic instruction time for students who are behind, some districts are lengthening the daily school time or the school year or reorganizing the school day to maximize academic learning” (p.84). Although it is now evident that extension of school time has significant benefits to students, the debate is not yet over.

Therefore, research is necessary to generate more evidence to settle this debate, which will help in the formulation and implementation of educational policies aimed at improving academic performance.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this study is to establish if prolonged daily school time will improve learning and academic performance of students in 8th grade, who are in school districts, which record poor academic performances in the United States.

Research Questions

  1. What is the relationship between prolonged school day and academic performance of students in different school districts?
  2. How do teachers utilize extended school time in increasing student learning and employing effective instructional strategies to improve performance of students in school districts?
  3. How do students perceive the essence of extended school time as reflected by their class attendance?

Hypotheses

Since extended school time is critical in enhancing academic performance of students, the study hypothesizes that prolonged school time is an effective strategy of improving academic performance of students in school districts.

Moreover, the study hypothesizes that the impact of prolonged school periods depends on instructional strategies that teachers employ in promoting learning and academic performance of students in classrooms. Although a school may have prolonged school time, it does not mean that students will perform better than other schools with conventional school time, since teachers play a central role in student learning.

Hence, student learning and academic performance are dependent on instructional strategies that teachers employ. Lastly, the study hypothesizes that school attendance of students reflects their attitude towards prolonged school time. If students have a poor attitude towards prolonged daily school time, there will be poor attendance and vice versa.

The Program

The study will establish a program that focuses on assessing academic performance of eighth graders in various school districts to ascertain if prolonged school time will improve learning and academic performance of students. The study will identify two school districts that have different periods of schooling.

The study will seek to compare the performance of schools that have extended daily school time with those that have conventional school day and establish if there is any significant difference in their academic performance. As per the hypotheses, the study expects that the school with prolonged school time will exhibit high academic performance than the school with conventional school time.

One limitation of the study is that the findings will have low external validity because they will be specific to two schools, thus making it impossible to generalize and extrapolate the results to other school districts.

Another limitation is that the study focuses only on academic performance of eighth graders; hence, it will not provide extensive information about the impact of extended school time on academic performance of students in other grades.

The delimitation of the study is that it only examines academic performance of two schools, one with extended school time and another with conventional school time. Additionally, since impact assessment of prolonged school time requires specific indicators, the study also delimits itself to eighth graders because they sit for a standard exam.

References

Corbin, C. (2009). Extended School Year Would Have Dire Economic Effects, Critics Say. Web.

Hewlett, S. (1999). The war against parents: What we can do for America’s beleaguered moms and dads. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Patall, E., Cooper, H., & Allen, A. (2010). Extending the school day or school year: A systematic review of research (1985-2009). Review of Educational Research, 80 (3), 401-436.

Prince, C. (2004). Changing policies to close the achievement gap: A guide for school system leaders. New York, NY: R&L Education.

Ross, S. M., McDonald, A. J., & Alberg, M. (2007). Achievement and Climate Outcomes For the Knowledge is Power Program in an Inner-City Middle School. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 12 (2), 137-165.

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