Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Second Advisor

Dr. Walter Burt

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary Marx

Abstract

It is every teacher’s dream to have a classroom full of students who come to class each and every day highly motivated to learn. However, in all reality teachers know that this is not always the case. Researchers continue to search for reasonable alternatives to improve students’ learning. As children enter school a good start is imperative if they are to succeed in school, (Achilles & Finn, 2000). Class size reduction is a strong alternative and should be considered as part of a reasonable plan for student learning.

For this qualitative study, I examined and described the experiences of 12 teachers who participated in a reduced class size (RCS) program, each with a minimum of three years’ participation in two elementary schools in one school district located in the eastern part of the state of Michigan. Specifically, I examined how the teachers described and interpreted their lived experiences during their years in the reduced class size program. Teachers were interviewed face to face, and the data gathered were inductively analyzed as described by Foss and Waters, (2007). Through the data analysis process, I developed seven themes from the research questions: (a) organization of the classroom, (b) building trust, (c) discipline and management, (d) teacher effectiveness, (e) changes in test scores, (f) challenges and mandates, and (g) factors influencing opportunities and successes. My study affirmed some of the research and added to some research on reduced class size programs. The major findings of this study were: (a) new teachers struggle at the beginning of their careers regardless of smaller class sizes; (b) teachers constantly engaged in self reflections, which they believed made them more effective; (c) veteran teachers in the RCS program had no challenges or concerns while in the program; (d) the RCS allowed for teachers to pursue and get more parent participation and involvement in their children’s schooling.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access