What are middle school students' reasons for choosing to engage or not to engage in their own learning?
Culligan, John Joseph
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine middle school student ideas about school life, their perceptions of their classroom cultures, their perceptions of their experiences at school, and their interactions with those around them in order to understand what qualities in their learning environment influence their motivation to learn. Four individual case studies and a cross-case analysis were conducted with four adolescent student participants from a suburban middle school in the Southeastern United States during the course of the 2001-2002 school year. The data sources were analyzed in order to find commonalities and differences in the perceptual experiences of the participating middle school students as they navigated the eighth grade. Throughout the study, student perceptions were articulated and analyzed using a multidimensional theoretical framework that is introduced in Chapter Three. Findings indicate that student perceptions of a welcoming classroom culture along with a strong relationship with teachers are prerequisites for some students to be willing to engage in learning. The findings also indicate that teaching methods students perceive to be more active are more motivating than those perceived as more passive in nature.
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