Study Links Teacher Engagement in Classroom Activities to Better Academic Achievement
Published in the Journal of Postsecondary Education, the study found that older middle-school and high-school students who engage in more classroom discussions, critiques and activities with their teachers have significantly better high school academic scores.
The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and analyzed information from 3,810 students in grades 8, 10 and 12 who completed the survey at the outset of eighth and 11th grade. By the end of those grades, 603 of those students completed the last unit in the project. Students answered questions about their participation in activities that helped them learn—from project-based learning courses to informal classroom discussions—as well as their attitudes about how teachers influenced them and their academic performance.
The study showed that middle school students who engaged in more classroom discussions and disagreements with their teachers had higher GPAs at the end of the study—higher in some instances, when compared to those who did not engage in such activities. In addition, if students engaged in classroom discussions with their teachers, they were more likely to read more than seven books a year. Furthermore, those who participated in more group-based activities at the end of middle school were more likely to attend college at the beginning of high school.
Of the group of 603 who completed the final survey, 797 students participated in group-based activities, and 794 of those students completed the last unit in the project. In comparison, the group of 612 students who had very few discussions with their teachers participated in group-based activities but also finished the last year of the study.
At the end of eighth grade, 103 of the students who participated in group-based activities and just 11 of the students who had very few discussions with their teachers had lower average GPAs. Also, 712 of the students who participated in group-based activities completed the last unit in the project, as compared to 613 of the students who participated in very few discussions. Similarly, 716 of the students who participated in group-based activities received grades for the final unit, as compared to 601 of the students who had very few discussions with their teachers.
In addition, academic knowledge grew significantly among the students who participated in group-based activities and who were provided with reading materials at the end of eighth grade, compared to the students who had very few discussions with their teachers.
“Our results indicate that students’ recommendations of their experiences with their teachers are important indicators of their educational performance and that these students’ optimism for their own academic ability matters,” said C.L. Louderback, PhD, associate professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Education and the senior author of the study. “The next steps are to determine how teacher engagement in other activities, like group discussions, can be improved to help retain and retain students.”
Other researchers on the study included: Alexandra Hansen, Katy Hunt, LM, Susan Fettweis, PhD, Mary Neumaier, PhD, Michelle Kozlak, PhD, and Stephen L. Patrick, PhD.