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Title:The impact of complex instruction on teacher perception of student status in secondary science classrooms
Author(s):Kline, Lauren Ashley
Director of Research:Ward Hood, Denice
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ward Hood, Denice
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Pak, Yoon; Huang, Wenhao David; Trent, William T.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Complex Instruction
science education
secondary science
teacher perception
student status
academic status
social status
Abstract:Science, from those working in STEM fields to those involved in science majors at colleges and universities to achievement in elementary, middle, and high school level courses and assessments is largely inequitable. Complex Instruction (CI) is a collaborative grouping instructional strategy used often in math classrooms that focuses on more accessible learning experiences and increased outcomes through the design of open ended tasks, and intentional feedback from the teacher to shift student academic and social statuses and to promote equity in collaborative groups and classrooms (Cohen, Lotan, Scarloss, & Arellano, 1999). However, the perspective of teachers implementing CI is not well researched in secondary science classrooms. Teacher training does not always provide teachers opportunities to build self and collective-efficacy by providing opportunities for collaboration and a sustained duration to increase opportunities of mastery using a new instructional strategy (Loughland & Nguyen, 2020). Using a mixed methods approach, this study looks at how ten teacher’s perception of student status changes after teachers implemented CI in their secondary science classrooms and the lesson reflections of six of those teachers. Two primary research questions guided this research: first, how does teacher perception of student academic and social status shift as a result of implementation of CI in the science classroom; and second, what are the experiences of secondary science teachers as they learn about and implement CI in their classrooms? The status survey analysis shows a significant positive change in both social and academic status after the CI implementation period. From the reflective journals, teachers described that they felt the CI lesson went well and that they learned something about student interactions or how to improve facilitating groupwork that they could apply in subsequent lessons. Teachers expressed a desire to hold both the group and individual students accountable during groupwork and implemented a variety of tools to do this. Teachers also noticed different behaviors in low status students during CI tasks than they had expected based on student engagement in previous tasks. Examples include teachers reporting surprise at low status students taking on leadership roles and that low status students were contributing science explanations to their groups that could be used as whole class examples, a public status treatment. This project was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic requiring this district to transition to remote learning on March 17, 2020, eliminating over two months of implementation time, along with follow up meetings between teachers and the trainers. Regardless of this impact, the results from this study suggest that CI is a strategy that has potential in science classrooms, but that teachers need training to both recognize status issues and to learn how to facilitate collaborative groupwork, prioritizing student conversations. Teachers also need time to build the classroom norms and expectations that support student collaboration, to practice and refine implementing CI lessons, and to address status specifically, particularly for low status students. School or district support in providing training and time for teachers to reflect and collaborate would be a great benefit to teachers doing this work, and in turn may provide more opportunities for students.
Issue Date:2020-11-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Lauren Kline
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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