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1 EFFICACY, SELF REGULATORY COMPETENCE, AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN A SMALL GROUP TUTORING PROGRAM: A MIXED METHODS STUDY By GRACE R HENAE HUXTABLE MOUNT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Grace R henae Huxtable Mount
3 To my husband Jason, for always encouraging and believing in me and my daughter Mya, who bring s overwhelming joy into my life
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The road to completing this journey has been longer than initially expected, and there are many individuals who helped me finally make it through. I am so incredibly grateful for the love, support and encouragement of my husband, Jason Mount. He has always had an unyielding faith and assurance in my abilities, even at times when my confidence wavered. He has pushed me to dream bigger and aim higher, despite the realities around me. I also feel extremely blessed for the love, laughs, smiles and hugs, from my sweet daughter, Mya. Within an instant of he r birth, everything else in life became secondary in compa rison to the love I have for her and my desire to always do what is best for her I hope that she will see this accomplishment as a testament that life i s full of amazing possibilities, and that she is very capable of achieving great things. I would like to acknowledge my parents, especially three women who have gone on to be with the Lord but had an incr edible impact on my life: my mother, Pearl Brown Hux table; my aunt who raised me as her own, Margaret Huxtable; and my mother in law, Coll They each served as a model of Godliness, strength, independence and compassion for others. They showed me that there is invaluable power in knowledge and that an education is the key to achieving the American dream. I am grateful for the faith that they had in me and the love that they showed toward me. I hope that this and my future endeavors have made them proud. I am also thankful for my siblings, ex tended family and friends who offered advice, shared their wisdom, and gave me tough love when I needed it the most. From beginning to end, they inspired me and helped nudge me along the way. A great deal of appre ciation is due to my professional family, the teachers and managerial staff at The Learning Experience of Jacksonville and at Huxtable Education
5 Group. They were incredibly supportive and diligent in seeing that things were taken care of which allow ed me to take time off and focus on writing. I am appreciative of the dedication from the Huxtable staff members who served as research assistants and tutors in this study. I want to express my gratitude to my committee chair, Dr. Linda Behar Horenstein. Through all of my rough drafts, delays and distra ctions, she always inspired me and calmly provided feedback and encouragement which helped keep me on track. I would have been lost without her guidance. I am so thankful that she never gave up on me. I would also like to thank my committee members, Dr. Je an Crockett, Dr. Bernard Oliver, and Dr. Linda Eldridge. The time and effort you put into working with me is extremely appreciated. I also extend a special thank you to Dr. James Doud, who brought the d octoral program to Jacksonville and helped to make earning this degree a reality for me. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from his years of wisdom and experiences in the field of education. Finally, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for his word and for his unconditional and often undeserving love. I am thankful that within recent years I have had the opportunity to gain spiritual knowledge and growth that renewed my faith and helped me regain the confidence that I would finally complete my degree
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 9 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 10 LIST OF TERMS AN D ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ .... 11 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 14 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ ............................. 18 Research Questions ................................ ................................ .............................. 19 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 20 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ......................... 21 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ........... 22 At Risk African American Elementary Students ................................ ..................... 22 At Risk Status ................................ ................................ ................................ 22 ................................ ........................ 27 Effectiveness of Tutoring ................................ ................................ ....................... 32 Academic Impact ................................ ................................ ............................. 33 Social Impact ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 36 Social Cognitive Theory and Student Achievement ................................ ............... 38 Academic Self Efficacy ................................ ................................ .................... 38 Self Regul ated Learning ................................ ................................ .................. 40 Facilitation of Self Efficacy and Self Regulated Learning ................................ 42 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 45 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 47 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 47 The Setting ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 48 The Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 49 Definition of Va riables ................................ ................................ ............................ 51 Instrumentation ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 52 Reading Achievement ................................ ................................ ..................... 52 Self Efficacy and Self Regulation ................................ ................................ .... 53 Student Interviews ................................ ................................ ........................... 54 Data Collectio n ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 55
7 Quantitative Pre Treatment Data ................................ ................................ ..... 55 Quantitative Pre and Post Test Data ................................ .............................. 55 Qualitative Data ................................ ................................ ............................... 55 Observations ................................ ................................ ............................. 55 Student Interviews ................................ ................................ .................... 57 Small Group Reading Intervention (SGRI) ................................ ...................... 58 Tutor Qualifications, Training and Supervision ................................ ................ 60 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 62 Preliminary Analyses ................................ ................................ ....................... 62 Within Group Pre Test/Post Test Analyses ................................ ..................... 62 Between Group Pre Test/Post Test Analyses ................................ ................. 63 Qualitative Analyses ................................ ................................ ........................ 63 Mixed Methods Analysis ................................ ................................ ................. 64 Verification ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 65 Role and Biases of the Researcher ................................ ................................ ....... 66 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 70 Quantitative Findings ................................ ................................ ............................. 70 Preliminary Analysis ................................ ................................ ........................ 70 Research Que stion 1(a) ................................ ................................ .................. 71 Research Question 1(b) ................................ ................................ .................. 72 Research Question 1(c) ................................ ................................ .................. 72 Research Question 1(d): ................................ ................................ ................. 73 Research Question 1(e): ................................ ................................ ................. 74 Research Question 1(f): ................................ ................................ .................. 74 Qualitative Analysis ................................ ................................ ............................... 75 Research Question 2: ................................ ................................ ...................... 75 Research Question 3: ................................ ................................ ...................... 79 Mixed Method s Analysis: Research Question 4 ................................ ..................... 85 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 95 Summary of Findings ................................ ................................ ............................. 95 Research Que stion 1(a) ................................ ................................ .................. 95 Research Question 1(b) ................................ ................................ .................. 96 Research Question 1(c) ................................ ................................ .................. 97 Research Question 2: ................................ ................................ ...................... 97 Research Question 3: ................................ ................................ ...................... 98 Research Question 4: ................................ ................................ ...................... 99 Reading Achievement ................................ ................................ ............... 99 Self Efficacy ................................ ................................ ............................ 100 Self Regulated Learning ................................ ................................ ......... 101 Limitati ons ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 102 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 103 Recommendations for Future Research ................................ .............................. 104 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 105
8 APPENDIX A STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE ................................ ................................ ............. 107 B STUDENT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................................ ................................ 112 C UF IRB APPROVAL ................................ ................................ ............................ 114 D DUVAL COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS RESEARCH APPROVAL ........................ 115 E PARENTAL CONSENT FORM ................................ ................................ ............ 116 F STUDENT ASSENT SCRIPT ................................ ................................ .............. 118 G TUTOR TRAINING HANDOUTS ................................ ................................ ......... 119 H ................................ .... 123 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................ 125 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ......................... 133
9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Demographic data of participants ................................ ................................ ...... 68 4 1 Ind ependent sample t test of FCAT d evelopment al scale scores (treatment vs. c ontrol) ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 88 4 2 Dependent sample t t e st on variable scores by time (p rete st vs. posttest) for treatment o nly ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 88 4 3 Means and standard d eviation s of posttest scores by group (t reatment vs c ontrol) ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 88 4 4 ANCOVA on reading achievement p osttest scores by group (treatment vs c ontrol), after controlling for pretest s cores ................................ ........................ 88 4 5 ANCOVA on self efficacy survey p osttest scores by group (treatment vs c ontrol), after controlling for pretest s cores ................................ ........................ 89 4 6 ANCOVA on self regulation s urvey p osttest scores by group (treatment vs c ontrol), after controlling for pretest s cores ................................ ........................ 89 4 7 Means and standard deviations for reading achievement, self efficacy, and s elf regulation at p retest and posttest for treatment and c ontrol ........................ 89 4 8 Comp arisons of observed activities f o und among schools one, two and t hree .. 90 4 9 Table of t hemes found from student interviews ................................ ................. 91 4 10 Meta themes, formulated m eanings, and corresponding examples of s igni erceptions of e ss ential elements of small group t utori ng ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 92 4 11 Frequency manifest e ff ect sizes of student generated e ss ential elements of small group t utoring ................................ ................................ ........................... 93 5 1 Summ ary of tested measures showing a reas of significant change in student p erformanc e after completing the reading i ntervention ................................ .... 106
10 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 Diagram of r esearch d esign ................................ ................................ .............. 69 4 1 Tested q uantitative measures for treatment and control groups and related qualitative meta themes based on treatment group p erceptions ........................ 94
11 LIST OF TERMS AND ABBREVIATIONS LOW INCOME Q ualification for free or reduced price lunch, which is determined using income levels reported to schools by parents S ELF PERCEPTION The way in which one views himself both internally and in relation to the surrounding external environment S ELF EFFICACY ajares, 2006 a p. 7) SES Supplemental educational servic es refers to federally mandated tutoring that is offered to low income students attending Title I schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress according to stipulations of No Child Left Behind. Tutorin g must be conducted by state approved providers, is paid for using Title I funds, and must be offered to eligible students at no charge (U.S. Department of Education, 2007, 2009B). SGRI Small group reading intervention is tutoring that is delivered in a sm all group format of one tutor with two to five students where intensive, individualized instruction that is focused on closing achievement gaps and providing strategies for success in reading SRL Self generated thoughts feelings, and actions that are systematically designed to affect Zimmerman, 2007, p. 8)
12 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy AFRICAN AMERICAN STU EFFICACY, SELF REGULATORY COMPETENCE, AND ACAD EMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN A SMALL GROUP TUTORING PROGRAM: A MIXED METHODS STUDY By Grace R henae Huxtable Mount August 2012 Chair: Linda Behar Horenstein Major: Educational Lea dership The purpose of this mixed methods study was to test the impact of facilitating social cognitive development instruction in a small group tutoring intervention that i s designed to improve reading achievement and academic self perceptions among at risk African American students. Reading assessment scores, a modified version of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire, observations and individual interviews we efficacy, and meta cognitive self regulation as a result of the intervention. Collecting both quantitative and qualitative data permitted the exploration of various aspects of the t utoring intervention. This study contributed to the research by providing an examination of the overall impact of small group tutoring on reading achievement, self efficacy, and self regulated learning. While there were no within group differences, there was a significant difference in reading achievement between treatment and control group. The findings from this study suggest that students who received tutoring had greater improvement in reading achievement than comparison students who did not receive tu toring. Through
13 mixed methods analysis of test scores, observations and interviews, several elements outcomes: (a) confidence building, (b) increased reading ability, ( c) reading strategy focus, (d) demonstration of self regulated learning, (e) tutor feedback, (f) access to help, (g) cooperative environment, and (h) making learning fun. This study illustrated that tutoring focused on reading strategies, efficacy building discourse, and self regulated learning strategies can be an effective resource in improving the reading achievement of low performing African American children from low income households. It also reveals that the test scores of African American students d o not always coincide with their own interpretations of their academic success and capabilities. An overview of the findings and their relation to previous research is presented. Recommendations for practice and further research are presented for educators who seek to better serve this population in an effort to close the achievement gap.
14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION African American students are achieving higher scores in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progr ess (NAEP) than ever documented. However, the achievement gap between Black and White students continues to persist. Reading achievement scores of White students are above the national average, while the average scores of African American students consistently trail behind (Snyder, Dillow, & Hoff man, 2007). Concern for how to close the achievement gap has led to implementing several interventions such as retention for students intensive early reading programs and federally funded tutoring and after school programs for minorities and students fro m poor families (Davison, Seo, Davenport, Jr., Butterbaugh, & Davison, 2004; Jimerson, Pletcher, Graydon, Schnurr, Nickerson, & Kundert, 2006; US Department of Education, 2009B). Research shows that more Black students are being retained than White student s, proportionally D rop out rates are higher among Black students than students of other racial backgrounds (Jimerson, et al., 2006; Stearns, Moller, Blau, & Potochnick, 2007). Furthermore, African American students are participating in federally funded tu toring programs and school based or center based after school programs at much higher rates than students of any other ethnicity (Carver, & Iruka, 2005; US Department of Education, 2007). Developing a greater understanding of how specific cognitive and soc ial characteristics impact reading achievement among African American s tudents could be helpful in identifying how to improve interventions. motivational variables interact with the
15 success. Research on social cognitive theory and an interest in the impact of cognitive and motivational factors on student achievement has led to the study of self regulated learning and self efficacy beliefs. S elf regulation involves the knowledge and use of (Zimmerman, 2008). Academic self capabilities for learning or performing at specific levels of accomplishment (Bandura, efficacy beliefs and perceived ability for self regulation are directly related to scholastic achievement outcomes (Pajare s, 2008). In a study of African American students living in poverty, Gutman and Midgley (2000) found that African American students with higher levels of academic self efficacy had higher grade point averages than students with low levels of academic self efficacy. Research shows that re medial interventions, such as grade repetition, can lead to long term negative effects on reading growth and overall academic trajectory ( Griffith, Lloyd, Lane & Tankersley, 2010; Randolph, Fraser, & Orthner, 20 04; Silbergli tt, Appleton, Burns, & Jimerson, 2006) Griffith and colleagues (2 010 ) used national longitudinal data to conduct a study comparing the reading abilities of high school students who had been retained sometime between kindergarten and 8 th grade s with similar students who had not been retained. Their research shows that retained students had lower reading achievement and a lower reading growth rate than similar students who had not been retained. These differences grew and persisted throughout th Students with reading difficulties who continuously remain lower than their peers are likely to develop negative
16 academic and reading related self perceptions (Chapman & Tunmer, 2003). This research emp hasizes how students can be detrimentally affected when academic remediation lacks an instructional focus on self regulatory skills and self efficacious beliefs. Acquiring self regulated learning strategies is a strong predictor of actual academic performa efficacy beliefs may lead to greater utilization of cognitive strategies (Pajares, 2002). Whether these interventions are providing students with the necessary academic content, as well as t he cognitive strategies and motivation required to persist through challenging experiences is still relatively unknown. Schunk and Zimmerman (2007) efficacy and self regulation strategies to strength en the development of literacy skills. They suggest using peer and adult models to explicitly teach self regulated learning strategies and to serve as sources of self efficacy information. This notion is supported by research generated directly from the vo ices of African American elementary and high school students. S tudies showed that exposure to positive peer influences, empowerment to use self management strategies, and the use of praise and encouragement were the most influential modes of promoting acad emic success for African American students (Tucker, Herman, Pedersen, Vogel, & Reinke, 2000). Special attention needs to focus on ensuring that educators implement intensive reading interventions and provide instruction that directly teaches African Americ an students strategies for achieving success as well as avoiding failure. Bandura (1986) hypothesized that without a firm sense of self efficacy, strong skill and ability may not be enough to achieve optimal
17 performance. Becoming more efficacious about lea rning will motivate students to implement self regulated learning strategies that can empower them to become more involved and influential in their learning. Current quantitative research on instruction, self efficacy and self regulation falls short of pr oviding a clear picture of how African American students view the role that reading interventions can have on their academic self perception. V ery little resear ch has taken a qualitative experienc es that are attributed to self efficacy beliefs and the use of self regulated learning skills. The available literature does not report if African American students have been given the opportunity to share their voices about how current interventions contr ibute to their actual academic progress and their beliefs about the potential for academic success. Usher and Pajares (2006 a ) found that African American students seem more likely to rely on social messages when formin g their academic confidence. T hey also pointed out that more qualitative research is needed to understand how these students make appraisals of what constitutes as efficacy building information. Tucker and colleagues (2000) have shown that African American elementary students realize that acad emic competence, self management skills and believing in oneself are critical aspects of success in school. Therefore, more research is needed to gain perspective on how well interventions are working through the eyes of the students who are recipients. T he current knowledge base on tutoring is scant and lacks relevance to the specific needs of poor, under achieving African American students. T he literature does not show a link between interventions, such as small group tutor ing, and their
18 effectiveness fo r increasing the academic performance, academic self efficacy and use of self regulatory skills of poor African American students. There has been some research on the effectiveness of one to one, teacher led or peer led tutoring. However, in a meta analys is of over 20 years of research on tutoring programs for elementary students at risk for reading failure, only two studies involved small group tutoring interventions (Elbaum, Vaughn, Hughes, & Moody, 2000). This study revealed that students receiving one to one tutoring in reading made slightly higher academic gains than students who did not, but the gains were not significant enough for students with severe reading difficulties to catch up with their higher achieving peers. This finding supports the need for further research on how interventions can impact student achievement Purpose of the Study The primary purpose of this study is to test the impact of facilitating social cognitive development instruction in a small group tutoring intervention that is designed to improve academic achievement and academic self perceptions among at risk African Ame rican students. The research design of the study is an embedded mixed methods design. In this approach, reading ability and self perception data will be collected. achievement, ac ademic self efficacy, and meta cognitive self regulation as a result of the intervention. Secondary qualitative data collection will occur during and after the tutoring intervention to explore the social and contextual factors that contribute to the studen Collecting both quantitative and qualitative data will permit the exploration of various aspects of the tutoring intervention in order to answer different research
19 questions. Data collected for the quantitative research questions are desi gned to provide statistically valid conclusions about the effectiveness of the tutoring intervention, while qualitative research questions will provide insight about what the students experience during instruction. These data will contribute to the overall impact on reading achievement, self efficacy, and self regulated learning. The ultimate goal is to acquire a deep understanding of the instructional, motivational and cognitive elements that need to be in place to increase the achievement of at risk Afric an American elementary students. Research Questions 1) What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and (a) reading achievement, (b) academic self efficacy and (c) self regulated learning in at risk African American elementary st udents? To investigate this question, the fol lowing hypotheses will be tested: a) Participation in a small group tutoring intervention will lead to increased reading achievement in African American students. b) Participation in a small group tutoring interventio n will lead to increased academic self efficacy in African American students. c) Participation in a small group tutoring intervention will lead to increased self regulated learning in African American students. d) African American students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will have higher reading achievement than comparison students. e) African American students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will have higher academic self efficacy than comparison students. f) African Ame rican students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will be more self regulated learners than comparison students. 2) What are the observed instructional experiences of at risk elementary aged African American students in the learning envir onment of a small group tutoring intervention? 3) How do students perceive the small group tutoring intervention regarding its impact on: (a) reading achievement, (b) self efficacy, and (c) self regulated learning strategy development?
20 4) xperiences, together with the reading achievement, self efficacy and self Significance of the Study The significance of this study is its contribution to enhancing an understanding of how to provi de academic interventions to effectively equip low achieving African American students with skills necessary to achieve greater levels of academic success. Large numbers of African American students are participating in interventions geared towards closing the achievement gap in reading. This study will show the impact of a reading intervention using small group tutoring coupled with a motivational and cognitive focus. The study draws attention to the relevance of implementing teaching practices that encour age students to be more self efficacious and self regulated learners. The study will also add insight about the features of intervention programs that can have the ba sed strategies that have been proven to directly link to academic achievement. This study will contribute to the literature in both school psychology and K 12 education that focus on meeting the needs of poor African American students. The findings from t his study will be of value to educators seeking intervention strategies for poor African American students who are not performing academically at levels equal to their non minority peers. The findings will also provide information for those interested in h ow to impact student learning beyond content mastery. Since the majority of the students participating in federally funded tutoring programs are African American children in elementary schools, policy makers and school personnel who select providers to off er supplemental educational services (SES) can use the results as a professional development tool and a means to encourage providers to improve the
21 quality of instructional services offered so that they better meet the needs of the population (U.S. Departm ent of Education, 2009B) Limitations of the Study The mixed methods nature of this investigation lends itself to the limitations of qualitative and quantitative methods, but limitations may be minimal due to data triangulation. Portions of the collected data are based on self reported information from students. Some students may be more capable of articulating their sense of verbally express their views and the rese voices are not lost in the discussion and inclusion of other existing research. Triangulation of the data using quantitative data, interviews, and observational field notes over time enhances the quality of the findings. The personal interests of the researcher as the owner and creator of one of the participating SES providers may limit the open endedness of the interview questions eing provided may cause other contributory factors to be overlooked. Finally, all participants in this study are low income, African American students from urban settings that are experiencing low academic achievement. Therefore, the findings of this study should not be generalized to all other populations of students or even African American students from middle class or wealthy families. These findings are relevant to a specific population that is at the greatest risk for failure according to their educat ional status.
22 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERA TURE T o provide background on what is known about elementary aged, struggling African American learners and the impact that tutoring and social cognitive theory can have on at risk populations, the literature review is divided into four sections. First, I describe characteristics of at risk, elementary aged African American students and identify factors that influence the development of their academic perceptions. In the second section, I examine the effectiveness of tutoring for at risk elementary students. In the third section, I investigate the influence of social cognitive theory, specifically self efficacy beliefs and self regulated learning, on instructional practices and student achievement. Fi nally, I summarize the literature and discuss the possible implications for African American children at risk for school failure. At Risk African American Elementary Students At Risk Status The conception that African American children from low income fam ilies are at risk for poor reading achievement is well documented. Also studies have shown the persistent achievement gap between Black and White students (Davison, Seo, Davenport, Butterbaugh, & Davison, 2004; Snyder, Dillow, & Hoffman, 2007; West, Denton, & Reaney, 2001). Low income familial status has negative implications for academic achievement and social development. Children who experience living in low income househo lds have a school dropout rate five times greater than children from middle or high income households (Chapman, Laird, Ifill, & Kewalramani, 2011 ). When African American students of poverty begin school, frequently they have low performance in developmental school readiness and language ability skills A lack of
23 student readiness may be due to having a parent with a low educational level (Fram, Miller Cribbs, & Van Horn, 2007; Qi, Kaiser, Milan, & Hancock, 2006; Rauh, Parker, Garfinkel, Perry, & Andrews, 2003 ). African American students who attend high poverty and high ethnic minority schools often experience educational inequalities that facilitate increased risk factors for school failure (Fram et al., 2007). In a study of the educational experiences of 1,338 children attending 246 schools in the U.S. South, Fram and colleagues used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Cohort to compare students who attend high poverty, high ethnic minority schools with students who attend low poverty, low ethnic m inority schools. S tudents were compar ed for differences based on race and income level. The researchers found that Black students were 3.8 times more likely than White students to attend a high poverty school. On average, the mothers of children attending high poverty, high ethnic minority sc hools have lower lev els of education. The finding suggests that these schools are more likely to have teachers with less experience and lower credentials. The teachers were less likely to use alternative, or individualized methods to assessing student lear ning. The researchers also observed that children in high poverty, high ethnic minority schools are typically placed in classes where high proportions of their classmates are reading below grade level. The y found that children in these schools have lower g ains in first grade reading skills. Consequently the res ults revealed that students who attended schools with a large quantity of poor children and higher proportions of ethnic minorities typically had mothers with less education and achieved lower test sc ores than students attending schools with fewer minority and poor children.
24 S tud ies illustrate the familial and school based risk factors that contribute to school failure for many low income, African American students. Often these students come from singl e parent households where the primary caregiver has a low educational level (Fra m et al., 2007, Qi et al., 2006 ). Research indicates that the combination of factors such as decreased oral language skills, differences in dialectal variation, fewer home lite racy experiences as well as standardized test bias, a lack of quality academic instruction and low teacher expectations can increase the risk for school failure for Researc hers have identified several factors that may contribut risk status. However, there is no consensus about the origin of or solutions to the achievement gap that has existed between Black and White students for several decades. A number of remedial interventions such as referral for special education services, retention, and packaged reading programs have been implemented to close the achievement gap and remediate students who are at risk for failure. However, these interventions can also have negative effects on the social, psychological and academic well being of African American stud ents. For example, students who exhibit signs of low achievement or inappropriate social behaviors are frequently referred for intervention services. Afric an American students are overrepresented in special education programs and are referred for these services at a disproportionate rate than their non minority peers (Blanchett, Mumford, & Beachum, 2 005; Gardner & Miranda, 2002). A meta analysis of 44 studie s on racial differences in referral rates for intervention or assessment suggests that African American students are deemed eligible for special education services at significantly higher rates than Caucasian students (Hosp &
25 Reschly, 2003). This finding i s noteworthy because it suggests that these disproportional refer rals may be due to bias or other factors rather than a true indication often placed inappropriately, that the effectiveness of special education programs may only be differential rather than the solution for all referred students (Skiba, et al., 2005). Research also shows that at risk African American students are subjected to non promotion, o r retention when signs of low achievement are evident. A lthough there are no significant academic benefits to retention, African American students experience significantly higher than average rates of retention (Silberglitt, Appleton, Burns, & Jimerson, 2006; Stearn s, Moller, Blau, & Potochnick, 2007). (2011) study on the differences between equally low achieving students who were either retained or promoted showed that retained students actually received fewer academic intervention services dur ing the year of retention than students that were promoted to the next grade level. In this case, retention, in and of itself, appeared to be the primary resource utilized as a means of increasing student achievement for struggling learners However, in ac tuality, 162). In a longitudinal study of the effects of grade retention on reading performance, Silberglitt et al. (2006) ex amined the reading growth of 147 students as they progressed from the first through the eighth grades. The researchers compared a group of retained students to a matched ability group of promoted students and a randomly selected control group. The longitud inal analyses resulted in three primary findings: (a) there was
26 (b) there was no benefit or deficit in growth rate for retained students when compared to promoted students with similar ability, and (c) that the randomly selected group made significantly higher growth than the group of retained students. Although this study indicates that there is no deficit or benefit to retention, retained students will be overage, w hich may lead to other developmental and social negative effects. These results suggest that retention does not result in positive effects and is not a justifiable means of retained students have lower self esteem, are more pessimistic about their future, are less engaged with school, and have 2007, p. 231). Rather than facilitating a large num ber of overage students, researchers suggest ed the implementation of after school tutoring programs, summer programs, and research based interventions that encourage both cognitive and social growth (Jimerson, Pletcher, Graydon, Schnurr, Nickerson, & Kundert, 2006; Silberglitt et al., 2006; Stearns et al., 2007). In addition to retention, remedial reading interventions are also utilized to close the achievement gap between Black and White students. However, the quantity and quality of research studies on the efficacy of reading interventions for Black students remains low. Lindo (2006) conducted an analysis of the proportion of reading intervention experiments which focused on African American students th at have been published in peer reviewed educati onal research journals from 1994 to 2004. The findings indicated that the majority of experimental reading research published in peer
27 reviewed educational journals do not use a significant proportion of Africa n American participants and do not provide explicit outcome data according to race. Therefore, there is a lack of focus on determining which interventions are effective in significantly increasing achievement for African American students. t there is a knowledge gap regarding the interventions or instructional methods that may positively impact the reading achievement of at risk African American students. Lindo questions how educators can repeatedly use strategies and interventions w ithout s ufficient evidence of substantial improvements for the target population that has repeatedly been left behind. More experimental and exploratory research focused specifically on African American students is needed to build better understanding of how to ac celerate the academic development of at risk African American students. The research on remedial interventions, such as referral for special education services, grade retention, and reading interventions, support s further research on the implementation of alternative formulas for addressing the needs of at risk African American youth. S academic perceptions have been reported Social exchan ges that occur between student and teacher, student and student, student and parent, and parent and teacher others. Both academic and nonacademic experiences contribute to how African achievement (Gutman & Midgley, 2000; Pershey, 2010 ).
28 Using participants as young as four years of age, researchers documented that children can express he ld beliefs about their cognitive competence and peer acceptance at school (Mantzicopoulos, 2004). In a study using 112 low income preschool students, Mantzicopoulos examined ethnic differences in the self perceptions of Head Start participants during their transition from preschool to kindergarten. As the researcher predicted, on average all students were overly optimistic about their cognitive competence and peer acceptance. They reported high self perceived acceptance among their peers and thought highly of what they were capable of achieving academically. However, African American students perceived themselves as less cognitively competent than their Caucasian peers did during both Head Start (ES = .25) and kindergarten (ES = .53). There were no other stu dies, thus more research is needed to understand the difference s among such young students similar socioeconomic levels. Although some scholars have asserted that African American students do not aspire or strive to be successful in school due to fear of b eing perceived by peers as acting White (Ogbu, 2004), several studies support the premise that African American students are indeed enthusiastic and passionate about learning (Archer Banks, 2007; Sankofa, Hurley, Allen, & Boykin, 2005; Tyson, 2002). In an ethnographic study, Tyson attitudes toward school. Through interviews and observation data, research indicates that these low income, elementary aged African American students were very eager to perform well in school and felt ashamed and disappointed when they
29 for academi c failures. These findings show that African American students be lieve that they are capable of achieving school success and feel personally responsible for their achievement. Tucker, Herman, Pederson, Vogel, and Reinke (2000) interviewed 22 elementary aged African American students and 21 African American students tha t were in high students and the solutions to those problems. Thematic analysis showed that academic success can be : (a) improved when students actively participate in cla ss and academic preparation, (b) promoted by positive peer influences, and (c) enhanced by self empowering African American students through teaching self management skills T eacher praise and encouragement are also active participation in class and completion of their school work. These themes suggest teacher affiliations, and self guided beliefs and behaviors toward learning experie nces. Although elementary and high school students reported that self management and active participation are important elements of achievement in school, they stressed the ney toward academic success (Archer Banks, 2007). The dynamic of the student and teacher relationship is a relevant factor in the development of academic self perceptions and social development of at risk African American students. Interactions that occur and relationships that develop between teachers and students can influence low educational intentions to complete school and further their education, educational
30 commitment behaviors, and identification of the perso nal value placed on education (Somers, Owens, & Piliawsky, 2008). In a qualitative study, Howard (2002) shared teachers. The results revealed that African American stud ents believe that good teachers are those who: (a) establish a family or home like environment at school, (b) display caring in a culturally connected way, and (c) provide students with verbal communication and affirmation. Although this study did not foc us on academic p.440). Furthermore, research shows that low income African American students who report high levels of teacher support have higher academic achievement (Gutman & Midgley, 2000). In a recent study on low income ethnic minority students in grades 5 through 12 McMahon, Parnes, Keys & Viola (2008) examined relationships between school stressors, school belonging and academic outcomes. School belonging, w hich was facilitated by interactions with peers and teachers, was associated with positive academic self e fficacy and school satisfaction. The findings proposed that school belonging was associated with a lower depressive state, positive affect, and a greater desire to engage in the learning process. Th e findings highlight the importance of establishing a lear ning environment for at risk African American students one that is psychologically safe and provides social support both from educators and peers
31 The notion of utilizing peer relationships to facilitate learning among African American students is support Boykin, Tyler & Dillihunt (2005) examined the learning preferences of 138 African American and Caucasian fifth and sixth grade rs that were from low socioeconomic status households ng preferences were evaluated using a measure of cooperative, competitive and individualistic learning styles. Although the results of their research showed that all students preferred cooperative learning, the preference for cooperative learning was stron ger among African American students than Caucasian students. In complete contrast to Caucasian students, African American students strongly rejected the competitive and individualistic learning approaches. In a similar study of learning and achievement pre ferences, researchers presented low income Black and White fifth graders with four learning orientation scenarios involving high achieving students: a) individualistic, b) competitive, c) communal and d) vervistic (Boykin, Albury, Tyler, Hurley, Bailey, & Miller, 2005). The students were presented with all four scenarios and were then asked questions designed to assess their attitudes toward peers who became high achievers by adhering to one of the four learning orientations. The researchers found that Afri can American students reported attitudes toward communal and vervistic high achievers that were significantly more frocultural themes of communalism and verve, and clear cut rejection of ones who achieved highly via the
32 The factors purported to contribute to the achievement gap may be due in par t to a lack of focus on identifying the individual needs of at risk African American students and a lack of research on the implementation of interventions designed to help this population. It seems clear, however, that social and cultural factors play a r ole in African and school in general. Research that is focused on interventions that combine commonly held learning preferences, positive peer affiliations, supportive teacher student relationships, and effective instructional methods are needed to begin to build a better understanding of the practices and interventions that work best for urban African American students in elementary school. Effectiveness of Tutoring There have been several empirical studies on the efficacy of supplemental tutoring programs (Elbaum, Vaughn, Hughes, & Moody, 2000; Hock, Pulvers, Deshler, & Schumaker, 2001). Although private tutoring has often been thought of as a luxury that only more e ducated and financially equipped parents can provide their children, supplemental tutoring programs for low income, at risk students is an emergent trend. State education agencies and local school districts are allocating funds to provide remedial and prev entative interventions for the neediest student populations. Furthermore, federal legislation established through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) now requires school districts that receive Title I funding to provide free tutoring to low income students who attend schools that need improvement. This legislation has resulted in thousands of poor African American students participati ng in tutoring programs across the nation. Many educators, scholars and the federal
33 government believe that tutoring can have tremendous influence on both the academic achievement and social development of at risk students. Academic Impact In a study conducted by Osborn, Freeman, Burley, Wilson, Jones and Rychener (2007), researchers investigated the effects of tutoring on the reading achievement of elementary students with cognitive disabilities, specific learning disabilities and students who were also receiving Title I services. The program consisted of a cohesive blend of one to one instruction with trained voluntee r tutors that delivered scientifically based instructional techniques and served as mentors to the participants. Pre and post test data compared reading scores of the participating students (N = 63) to a control group that did not receive one to one tutor ing. The results revealed that students with cognitive disabilities, specific learning disabilities and students receiving Title I services averaged gains in reading of more than one month for every month of the intervention. Furthermore, the participants outperformed non participating comparison students at a statistically significant level (.05). This st udy demonstrated the impact of structured tutoring on increasing the achievement of students that face serious cognitive and economic challenges. Althoug h the study did not separately evaluate the role that the results indicate that a holistic approach to tutoring can have a significant influence on academic achievement. In a meta analysis of 29 studies of supplemental reading interventions, Elbaum, Vaughn, Hughes, & Moody (2000) assessed the efficacy of one to one, adult delivered reading interventions for elementary students at risk for failure in reading. The study inc luded 42 samples of at risk elementary students (N = 1,539) and had a mean
34 weighted effect size of 0.41. Elbaum, Vaughn, Hughes, and Moody (1999) point out that in educational research involving at risk students, an effect size of 0.25 is educationally and statistically significant, so an effect size of 0.41 is promising. Several findings also resulted from this study. First, students who received one to one tutoring performed at a significantly higher level on reading achievement tests than students that did not participate. This finding justifies that there is a significant academic benefit to tutoring. A second finding resulted from a comparison of one to one interventions and small group interventions of 2 to 6 students. The overall effect size of 0.12 indicates that there is no difference in the academic benefit to students tutored one to one or in a small group. Furthermore, of all 29 studies included in the meta analysis, only two contrasted one to one and small group reading interventions. An appare nt lack of research on small group tutoring supports the need for the currently proposed study. Although most empirical studies on supplemental tutoring focus on one to one interventions, several researchers have acknowledged a need to investigate small gr oup tutoring based on the potential cost advantages, social benefits and the greater capacity to serve larger numbers of at risk students (Elbaum et al., 2000; Foor man & Torgesen, 2001; Vaughn, Linan Thompson, Kouzekanani, Bryant, Dickson, & Blozis, 2003 ). Recent research has examined reading instruction grouping for students with reading difficulties. One study examined the effects of three grouping formats (one to one, one to three and one to ten) on the reading achievement outcomes of second grade studen ts at r isk for reading failure (Vaughn et al. ). Findings indicate that both the one to one and one to three groups outperformed the one to ten group at the .05
35 significance level. Additionally, there were no statistically significant differences between th e one to one and one to three grouping patterns. This research suggests that small group tutoring in reading may be equally powerful as one to one interventions in increasing student achievement. son (2000) compared two small group reading interventions representing two different approaches to reading instruction with a control group. The participants were students with reading disabilit ies who attended schools with 72.5% to 90% low income family p opulation. Students were instructed in groups of five by a paraprofessional who received specialized training on the instructional methods and objectives of the reading programs. The findings resulted in an average effect size greater than 1.00 for each re ading intervention group across all reading and reading related outcomes. The students who participated in both small group reading interventions achieved significant gains in reading skills in comparison to the control group. Although the study was limite d by its short duration of only six weeks, the results indicated that small group tutoring can greatly impact learning. In addition to having an immediate positive impact on student achievement, tutoring can also have more generalized effects. Research sho ws that at risk students who receive direct strategy use instruction from a trained adult can utilize learned Swanson, 2000, Vaughn et al., 2003). In an investigation of an after school tutoring program f or at risk students, Hock and colleagues found that students improved their test and quiz grades and maintained a high level of performance well after the strategic
36 tutoring had commenced. In another study of reading interve ntion effects, Vaughn et al. discovered that student gains in phoneme segmentation, fluency and comprehension were maintained on a follow up assessment that took place four to five weeks after the intervention had concluded. Social Impact Students partici pating in supplemental tutoring interventions can gain more than increases in academic achievement. Tutoring can also lead to social outcomes that may be critical in influencing the growth of at risk learners. The relationship that develops and the social exchanges that occur between tutor and student can also impact the cognitive development and academic effort put forth by struggling learners (Babbit & Byrne, 2000). Equally noteworthy is the type of learning that occurs in the dynamics of a group. Small group instruction allows students the opportunity to learn in conjunction with their peers in a collegial and supportive environment. Wanzeck, Vaughn, Kim, and Cavanaugh (2006) discovered that working with peers has a positive impact on tcomes. Their study revealed that students with reading difficulties demonstrated increases in self concept, perceived ability, self esteem, and social status after participating in small group reading interventions. High risk students, such as low income African American elementary students who struggle in reading can benefit from the cognitive and emotional support that the small group tutoring environment can provide (Foorman & Torgesen, 2001). Gardner, Nobel, Hessler, Yawn, and Heron (2007) state that, They provide students with and without disabilities additional opportunities to engage with instructional content that they might otherwise fail to master.
37 Tutoring systems promote knowledge acquisition, have a positive impact on how children view themselves, and may enhance maintenance and generalization. (p.79) Several researchers have focused on the utilization of supplemental tutoring as a means of preventing school failure for a t risk students. Although there is ample research to support the efficacy of tutoring at risk, struggling readers, the vast majority of this research has been conducted using first grade participants who are in the very early stages of literacy and social development (Elbaum et al., 2000 Slavin et al., 2009 ). Several studies validate the need for early intervention to prevent reading failure, but disregard at risk pre adolescent, intermediate students who are in the third through fifth grades. Based on rec ent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), African American students in the fourth grade are reading well below the levels of their White peers (Snyder, et al., 2007). Research shows that tutoring is effective as a tool for t he prevention and remediation of student reading failure. However, more research is needed to show why tutoring works. There is little qualitative research that illustrates how at risk children learn in the tutoring setting. There is also a need to investi gat e features of the tutor student dynamic (Slavin, et al., 2011). Since tutoring programs are growing more rapidly as an intervention, mixed methods research is needed to identify tutoring programs that increase achievement and build understanding of the nature of how tutoring can impact at risk African American students in the intermediate grades. Acknowledging the combination of academic and social benefits of small group tutoring may lead to greater gains in overall cognitive growth for students at risk for school failure.
38 Social Cognitive Theory and Student Achievement developed and driven by internal and external forces. Critical to social cognitive theory is the triadic recipro cal interactions between personal, behavioral and environmental factors. In regard to students, this concept refers to the interactions that exists between what students do, what they think and what happens in their environment to affect their social and academic growth. Students essentially shape and are shaped by their actions, thoughts and school environment. Within social cognitive theory, two significant efficacy and self regulated learni ng (Bandura, 1986; Bandura, 1997). Social cognitive theory is relevant to interventions for at risk African American elementary aged students due to its concentration on the combination of motivational, cognitive and social elements of student development The research on African American students learning preferences and effective tutoring for at risk minority students demonstrates t hat incorporating social cognitive theory tenets may facilitat e interventions that are more appropriate in addressing these Academic Self Efficacy Academic self a p.7). Research suggests that self efficacy for le arning influences academic achievement, motivation, persistence and engagement (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003; Pajares, 2008; Schunk, 2003). When describing the significance of self e fficacy beliefs, Bandura decl ared different realities is pivotal to their self perceptions of efficacy. What they choose to do,
39 the effort they invest, how long they persevere in the face of disappointment, and whethe r they approach tasks anxiously or self assuredly yields much insight about efficacy beliefs, task performance and response to feedback. Students make appraisals of their academic self efficacy from their perform ance, vicarious experiences, persuasion fro m others, and physiological reactions (Schunk & Pajares, 2002). Self efficacy beliefs are primarily enhanced when students encounter academic success or master new skills. Through ob serving and comparing their actions with those of teachers and peer models students adjust their beliefs about what they are capable of doing. Additional ly, enc ouraging feedback from teachers can raise efficacy. If students notic e themselves sweating or feeling anxious about a particular experience, they may associate those signs with feelings of doubt in their ability to perform the task at hand (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007). Some children may report levels of self efficacy beliefs that are higher than their actual performance (Bandura, 1997). Research shows that there is a correlation perceptions of their academic capabilities and their actual scores on standardized tests (Pershey, 2010). Incr eased self perceptions of efficacy may also exhibit effort more vigorously and with greater persistence than students with lower self efficacy (Bandura, 1986). The exertion of effort facilitated by high self efficacy is an influential factor in student achievement. In a two year study, Long, Monoi, Harper, Knoblauch and Murphy (2007) found that there was a consistent correlation between self efficacy beliefs and academic
40 ach ievement among poor, urban African American students. Eighth grade students with higher academic self efficacy beliefs wer e more likely to have a higher grade point a verage than students with less self efficacious beliefs. This correlational study identifi ed academic self efficacy as a significant predictor of the academic achievement of impoverished African American adolescents. Academic self efficacy is considered a critical protective factor when students are faced with academic failure, transitions and challenges. Gutman and Midgley (2000) conducted an examination of the factors that may support the academic achievement of socio economically disadvantaged African American fifth grade students who were making the transition into middle school. The stronge st predictor of academic achievement was academic self efficacy. Students who had higher academic self efficacy had higher grade point averages across the middle school transition than their peers. This study demonstrates that poor African American student s who are confident in their academic abilities may be better equipped to overcome challenging academic experiences than students who are less efficacious. Self Regulated Learning Self regulated learners are goal oriented, organized, and self reflective. Self regulation involves using metacognitive processes to plan, set goals, organize and act in a manner that is self reflective and self evaluative (Pintrich, 2000). Self regulated learners are intrinsically motivated and acknowledge th eir role in successe s and failures. They utilize metacognition to monitor or modify their thinking and take some kind of action that modifies their learning behaviors (Dinsmore, Alexander, & Loughlin, 2008).
41 Social cognitive theory proposes that self regulated learning consists of three major sub processes: self observation, self judgment, and self reaction (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997; Zito, Adkins, Gavins, Harris & Graham, 2007). Self observation involves students making an intentional effort to pay attention to specific aspects of their beha vior. This helps students objectively identify their own behaviors that may be hindering or helping them academically. Secondly, self judgment refers to students evaluating their performance based on fixed or normative standards. Stude nts may judge themselves based on completing an assignment on time or by socially comparing their performance with their peers C omparative self judgments inform students about their progress. Finally, self regulation involves self reaction. Evaluative sel f reaction r efers to responding efficacy plays a role in the way students choose to react to their judgments of performance (Bandura, 2001). During this process, students appraise their skills and react in ways that mirror their confidence levels for accomplishing certain t asks. These learning sub processes allow students to make decisions a bout their journey through their academic experiences. Self regulatory competence has been linked to academic achie vement. Students with greater self regulated learning skills and knowledge typically have higher achievement in school. In 1986, Zimmerman and Martinez Pons developed a structured interview for evaluating student use of self regulated learning strategies. For 13 out of 14 categories of self regulated learning strategies, the high achievement group of students reported significantly higher strategy use than the low achieving group. Their
42 3% accuracy based on their reported use of self regulated learning strategies. In another study of self regulated learning, Perry, VandeKamp, Mercer and Nordby (2002) investigate d the teacher to student interactions that foster ed self regulated learning u sing in class observations and semi structured interviews. Their research suggests that even in the early elementary school grades, students are capable of developing and engaging in self regulatory behaviors such as questioning, clarifying, correcting, an d evaluating oneself that may aid them in completing complex reading and writing tasks. Instruction that specifically models self regulated learning strategies may academic ac hievement (Cleary, Platten & Nelson, 2008, Pajares, 2008). Similarly, research has shown that at risk elementary aged African American students who spend more time acquiring and practicing cognitive reading strategies will have higher reading achievement t han their peers (Al Otaiba, Schatschneider, & Silverman, 2005). Facilitation of Self Efficacy and Self Regulated Learning When considering academic interventions for at risk students, it is logical to focus on fostering self efficacy and self regulation si multaneously because they are reciprocal and have a bidirectional affect on each other (Bandura, 2001). Feelings of high self efficacy promote the use of effective self regulatory processes, and the implementation of self regulatory skills in turn fosters increased self efficacy beliefs. Likewise, students who do not have self regulatory competence are less likely to feel confident in their capabilities. A l ack of efficacious beliefs deter s them from utilizing prescribed self regu latory strategies. W hen stu dents believe that they do not possess the capability to
43 master materials, it is unlikely that they invest the time and effort in goal setting or strategies required to succeed (Pajares, 2008). Students develop self regulatory competence via a series of n on linear levels. regulation is comprised of two levels that rely on social factors and two levels that are guided by the learner. In the observation level, students acquire se lf regulatory skills from models and verbal instruction. In the emulative or imitative level, students demonstrate observed skills and are socially influenced by o the guidance and feedback. In the third self controlled level, students begin to internali ze learned skills and develop their own standards of learning. Finally, in the fourth level, students adapt skills and self regulatory processes to better meet their individual needs. They also become self efficacious about their ability to use skills in t he correct contexts. Ultimately, students make progress toward self regulation beginning with teacher or peer modeling, student observation, student imitation, student self control, and finally to self regulated use of learning strategies (Schunk & Zimmerm an, 1997). T hey recommend the teaching of self regulation strategies so that students understand how to apply the se strategies. Research shows that several instructional techniques can be applied to increase academic self efficacy foster self regulated learning among struggling students. Just as self regulated learning is influenced by feelings of self efficacy, self efficacy is al so enhanced by the acquisition and implementation of self regulated learning strategies. efficacy is highly correlated with self regulated strategy use (Zimmerman
44 & Martinez Pons, 1990). Students who set goals, plan, organize, transform info rmation, and seek peer assistance also have increased self efficacy. Based on studies of reading achievement, self efficacy and, self regulated learning, scholars recommend that educators focus on using modeling, goal setting, feedback, self evaluation, a nd cognitive strategy tools to promote self efficacy and develop self regulatory competence (Schunk, 2003; Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007; Zito, Adkins, Gavins, Harris, & Graham, 2007). Modeling and fe edback are essential to students progress ion through the lev els of self regulatory development (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007). They are mechanisms by which teachers and peers encourage students to believe in themselves and demonstrate cognitive strategies that bring about actual and perceived success. B y explicitly tea ching students to be cognizant of their feelings about what they can achieve and the actions that they utilize in a given academic situation teachers can improve student self efficacy and self regulatory competence (Zimmerman, Bonner, & Kovach, 1996). Mar golis (2005) suggests that teachers help struggling students to learn to credit their successes on their effort, efficacy appraisals and the self regulator y sub processes of self observation, self judgment and self reaction support this assertion Students can evaluate themselves and make more accurate judgments of their progress and capabilities when provided with stra tegies for self reflection. P rovidi ng s tudents with tools to build self regulated learning strategies and self efficacy bring s at risk students closer to the ultimate goal of academic success (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007).
45 Summary Although research does not support a singular cause of the persiste nt Black White achievement gap, evidence demonstrates that African American students who come from low income homes and attend high poverty, high minority schools are disadvantaged when compared to their more affluent, non minority peers. S everal remedial options such as retention, referral for special education services and reading interventions have been reported, however, they have not yet closed the gap. Although progress i s being made through the identification of additi onal research is needed to determine whether teaching to learning preferences make s a difference. Furthermore, the fact that so few studies have been conducted on the effects of reading interventions for struggling, low income African American students sup ports the need for this study (Lindo, 2006) Like the communal learning preferences of urban African American students, activities that build self efficacy and self regulated learning are not grounded in competitiveness. These activities are focused on in tellectual growth, self reflection, and self management using peers and teachers as vicarious models and sources of constructive feedback. Given the available literature which suggests that African American students benefit from learning in supportive soci al environments, small group tutoring is a justifiable venue for implementing a strategic reading intervention. The research highly supports the power of model ing and social guidance as mechanisms to build self efficacy and self regulated learning. Additio nally, the correlations between self regulated learning and self efficacy and self efficacy and academic achievement reveal that a tutoring intervention based on enhancing reading achievement through principles of soci al cognitive theory may be appropria te and successful in increasing the
46 reading achievement of at risk elementary aged African American students and demonstrate progress toward closing the achievement gap.
47 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY To provide a detailed description of the methods and procedures utilized in this mixed methods study, this section begins with a review of the purpose of the study and an explanation of the research design. A discussion of the setting, participants, variables, and instrumentation follows. Detailed descriptio ns of the quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods used for data collection, data analysis, and data verification are presented next. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of the researcher and researcher bias. Research Design The primary purpose of this study is to test the impact of facilitating social cognitive development instruction in a small group tutoring intervention to improve academic achievement and academic self perceptions in at risk African American students. The research de sign of the study is an embedded mixed methods design. According to Creswell (2008), an embedded research design involves collecting quantitative and qualitative data simultaneously with one form of data playing a supporting role to the primary form of data. The benefit of this design is that it combines the advantages of two research methodologies, allowing outcomes of an experiment to be tested for statistical significance, while also using qualitative methods to identify how individual participants experience the process. Reading ability and self perception data achievement, academic self efficacy, and meta cognitive self regulation as a result of the intervention. Secondary qualitative data collection will take place dur ing and after the tutoring intervention to explore the social and contextual factors that contribute to
48 By collecting both quantitative and qualitative data I hope to explore aspects of the tutoring intervention to gain an unde rstanding of what the intervention can do and go identify the experiences that lead up to the results. A diagram of the research design is presented in Figure 3 1. This study is largely quantitative and includes a quasi experimental within group and betw een group design to measure the efficacy of the tutoring intervention. In order during the tutoring intervention, ethnographic methods rooted in a constructionist perspe ctive will be utilized in the embedded qualitative aspect of the study. According to Creswell (2008), this type of embedded design is advantageous because it allows the researcher to examine features of an intervention that are not easily quantified. The Setting The study was conducted in a large urban school district in Northeast Florida where 41.2% of the students are White and 43.9% of the students are Black. Approximately 50% of the elementary students in the school district have been identified as low income status based on eligibility for free or reduced price school lunch. According to national and statewide accountability data for the 200 8 200 9 school year, Black students and economically disadvantaged students in this school district we re not me eting minimum reading proficiency goals in contrast to White, Asian and American Indian students. Data were collected from students attending five Title I elementary schools that ears during the spring of 2009 guidelines, schools failing to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal
49 status. AYP refers to the amount of expected growth students should make from one year to the next. Within these five schools, the student population is predominantly African American (from 47% 97%) and low income (from 74% 92%). To raise academic achiev ement, the school district is required by the federal government to offer tutorial services to struggling students via a private entity. Economically disadvantaged parents whose children attend these schools receive the option of enrolling their children i n after school tutoring in reading or mathematics. This study focused on tutoring that is offered through one program provided to st udents attending each of the five schools whose parents have selected the Small Group Reading Intervention (SGRI). Tutoring in the SGRI program is conducted after Although many parents at these five schools enroll their children in after school tutoring, several parents elect not to allow their chi ldren to receive these services. The Participants Homogenous case sampling was used in order to generate data from individuals who are demographically and educationally similar (Kemper, Stringfield, & Teddlie, 2003). Participants in the study consisted of 37 African American students in grades 4 and 5 who attend the five elementary schools described above. The students were selected based on meeting the eligibility requirements to participate in the Small Group Reading Intervention (SGRI) tutoring program The selection criteria for the participants included scoring a Level 1 or Level 2 on the 2008 administration of the FCAT, being from a low income home, and not being enrolled in any tutoring program. The experimental group consisted of 22 fourth and fifth grade students. The remaining 15
50 fourth and fifth graders made up the comparison group. The students ranged in age from 10 to 12, with a mean age of 11. Frequencies and perc entages regarding demographic data are presented in Table 3 1 Students in the tut oring intervention group were matched to comparison students who are similar in student demographics and recent achievement on state wide standardized tests. Students in both groups are African American and are from economically disadvantaged families. All students were also performing below grade level in reading. Developmental Scale Scores on the Reading portion of the 2008 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) were used to ensure that students in the experimental and comparison groups were matched by reading ability prior to the administration of the tutoring intervention. An independent samples t test was employed to confirm that there were no statistically significant group differences between the experimental and comparison groups. To recruit s tudents to par ticipate in the study the researcher contacted the principal of each of the five schools and asked for assistance in identifying students who met the criteria of being below average, African American fourth or fifth graders who qualify for f ree or reduced lunch who we re not enrolled in an after school tutoring program. The administrators at each school provided the researcher with a list of students who met the research criteria. To gain consent from parents, the researcher obtained permissio home with the students for the parent to read, sign and return to the tutor at each school. Letters requesting permission for participation in the study were sent home with 58 students. Ultim ately 42 of the 58 returned the signed parental consent form, but five
51 of those students did not complete the program or could not be reached for pre and/or post testing; thus resulting in a sample size of 37 students. Randomization was not utilized for s tudent assignment. Students were assigned to treatment and control groups the treatment group. Prior to the administration of the pre test measures, the researcher o r tutor read the assent script to each student. Definition of Variables The independent variable in this study is the Small Group Reading Intervention (SGRI) tutoring program. Students in the SGRI group received after school tutoring in reading in groups of four to five students. While using reading instruction as the primary focus, tutoring incorporated the use of exercises and discourse to build academic self efficacy and self regulated learning behaviors. Students in the comparison group received regula r classroom reading instruction and did not participate in any tutoring beyond the school day. The dependent variables measured in this study were (a) reading achievement, (b) academic self efficacy and (c) self and post test scores in reading achievement on the Achieve Assessment Test (United Learning Center, 2002) were used to measure the change in reading achievement as a result of and post test scores on the Motivated Strategie s for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1991) efficacy and self regulated learning as a result of the SGRI tutoring program.
52 Instrumentation Reading Achievement To asses s the influence of the Small Group Reading Intervention on reading achievement, the Reading/Language Arts portion of the Achieve Assessment Test (United Learning Center, 2002) was administered as a pre and post test measure. The Achieve Assessment Test is a multiple choice assessment that was designed to be consistent with standardized, criterion referenced tests and is complementary to national and statewide reading standards. The Reading/Language Arts portion of the Achieve Assessment Test contains 44 it ems that evaluate student knowledge in the areas of vocabulary, comprehension (main idea, supporting details, sequencing, purpose, plot, and summarizing), and reference skills The Achieve Assessment is a curriculum based assessment used to test the specific instructional skills that students learn in the small group reading intervention. To administer this assessment, the examiner orally instructs students to read each selecti on and then answer the corresponding questions. Students answer all questions independently. T est completion may take 45 to 60 minutes. Educational experts university professors, classroom teachers, and professional test writers wrote items for the Achiev e Assessment Test. Content validity was evaluated by the test developers who used research to ensure that the content and nature of the test is age and grade appropriate. Reading passages were then tested with software to ensure that the readability level was appropriate for each grade level. Each item was pilot tested in seven Florida school districts comprised of urban, suburban, and rural students. Field tests were performed with a sample size of over
53 10,000 students of various racial, ethnic and socioec onomic backgrounds who were in grades 1 through 11. Scholars at Middle Tennessee State University utilized the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software to check reliability of the Assessment Test is .81. Self Efficacy and Self Regulation A modified version of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) efficacy) and learning strategies (s elf regulated learning). The MSLQ is a self report instrument regulated learning i n school based contexts. B ased on the social cognitive view of motivation and learning this view advocates that s mediating academic achievement (Bandura, 1997; Duncan, & McKeachie, 2005; Pintrich et al., 1993). The Self Efficacy subscale consists of 8 items that assess efficacy for learnin g. The Metacognitive Self Regulation subscale consists of 12 items that assess student use of cognitiv e and metacognitive strategies. (Refer to Appendix A ) Tests of the reliability and validity of the MSLQ were conducted using 380 Midwestern college stud ents, attending a 4 year university. The original instrument was analyzed using two confirmatory factor analyses to separately test motivation items and cognitive and metacognitive strategy items. After the factor analyses were conducted, computations were calculated for internal consistency estimates of reliability, correlations between each motivational and cognitive strategy scale and predictive
54 reliability coeffici ent alpha for the Metacognitive Self Regulation subscale is .79. The internal reliability coefficient alpha for the Self Efficacy subscale is .93. Prior to the study the modified version of the two MSLQ subscales utilized in this study was pilot tested us ing 15 fourth and fifth grade students who had similar characteristics to the schools participating in the study (high African American population, high low income population, in Needs Improvement status for 2 or more consecutive years). Student Interview s The researcher conducted semi structured, open ended interviews with each student who completed the SGRI tutoring program. The interview was comprised of self efficacy, self regulation of learning, and reading achievement (See Appendix B). Some of these questions were loosely based on the MSLQ, the Self Regulated Learning Interview Schedule (SRLIS, see Zimmerman & Martinez Pons, 1986), and the self efficacy interview pro tocol utilized by Henk and Melnick (1998). The SRLIS was regulated learning strategies and contains free response questions that address 14 classes of self regulated behaviors. Students were also asked to describe t he tutoring environment, including the social and instructional interactions that took place between themselves, their tutor and their peers. Data from students experienced ended interviews] by turn
55 Interview questions were pilot tested with the same students that participated in the pilot testing of the MSLQ instrument. Pilot testing was used to assess the clarity and appropriateness of the questions. Based on conclusions drawn from pilot testing the language, substance and length of the interview may need to be adjusted (Glesne, 2006). Data Collection Quantitative Pre Treatment Data Prior to administering pre test measures, developmental scale score reports from the reading portions of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test were collected on studen ts in the experimental and comparison groups to ensure that students in both groups were at similar reading ability levels prior to the intervention. Quantitative Pre and Post Test Data Tutors administered the reading achievement test and the self efficac y and self regulated learning subscales of the MSLQ as the pre and post test measures over a period of one to two days. The tutors received extensive training on the administration of the measures from the researcher She emphasized the importance of main taining standardization in each administration of the measures. The pre test measures were administered to students in the experimental and comparison groups prior to beginning the SGRI tutoring intervention. Post test measures were administered after the SGRI tutoring intervention was complete. Qualitative Data Observation s Participant observation s w ere utilized to collect first hand accounts of the social and instructional interactions that took place between the students and the tutor and
56 between the students and their peers in the group. During o bservations data were collect ed regarding the context of the tutoring environment. Participant observation of children required the observer to identify the surroundings of the child, the way in which activit ies were started, how the child became involved, how the child interacted with partners, and the roles of the individuals involve d (Tudge & Hogan, 2005 ). The researcher purposively selected three small groups of students from the SGRI experimental group to observe throughout the tutoring program. Each of the three gro ups was at a different school. Because all tutoring sessions were conducted at the same times but at various school sites, t he research er was responsible for conducting observations on on e of t he groups, and research assistants conduct ed observations on the two other groups. T his method allowed the researcher to gather a greater amount of observational data. The research assistants were certified public school teachers who were not affiliated wi th the schools at which they were assigned to observe a small researcher trained the rese arch assistants on techniques for conducting participant observations. Research assistants were shown how to position themselves as an objective observer who has little to no interaction with the student participants except to conduct member checking to cl arify their observation notes. They were asked to study and document the setting, the participants, and the events and interactions that took place between the tutor and the students and the students and their peers. They were also provided with examples o f what detailed, descriptive field notes look like (Glesne, 2006).
57 Six to nine observations were conducted throughout the intervention for three out of the five tutoring groups for a total of 23 observations. Two to three observations were conducted at the beginning of the tutoring program, in the middle, and toward the end of the intervention. Each observation lasted 60 to 90 minutes. During the observations, the researcher took hand written notes to record a detailed, close to verbatim transcript of the o bservations. Field notes were descriptive and analytic to ensure accuracy, reflect on patterns and raise questions about the meaning of the interactions that are observed (Glesne, 2006). Reflective notes were utilized to record any personal thoughts and qu estions that arose during the observations. When necessary, the researcher used informal interviews with the students at the end of the tutoring session to clarify any questions that may have come up while data were being collected. Student Interviews The researcher individually interview ed all of the students in the SGRI tutoring groups at the end of the intervention. Students were asked a set of open ended questions tutori ng environment and how the intervention has impacted their self efficacy, self regulated learning, and reading achievement. The researcher also probed participants to elaborate when clarification of answers was necessary. Interviews took place at each stud instructional period. All interviews were tape recorded by the researcher and transcribed to ensure accuracy. Transcription of the interview recordings was conducted by a program assistant from the Universit y of Each interview lasted approximately 12 to 18 minutes.
58 Small Group Reading Intervention (SGRI) S tudents were placed in a small group of 4 to 5 students with similar learning needs. Students were tutored after school 2 ti mes per week for 90 minutes each session, from February 2009 to April 2009, excluding school holidays. Students received 24 hours of instruction over a period of 9 to 10 weeks. Each small group was assigned a n experienced reading teacher tutor The Small Group Reading Intervention (SGRI) provided tutors with daily lesson plans, teaching manuals, and consumable materi als for the students. L essons included reading instruction in building phonological awareness and fluency and more extensive instruction in b uilding vocabulary and comprehension using a variety of narrative and expository texts Students were presented with strategies designed to help them make meaning from text and to become more fluent readers Some of the reading strategies incorporated duri ng the SGRI instructional program included clarifying, self questioning, making predictions summarizing, and relating text to prior knowledge. These strategies were impl emen ted in order to encourage the students to utilize a strategic approach to overcomin g reading challenges (McCabe, 2006). The students were encouraged to determine which strategies work best for their unique learning styles. In addition to focusing on reading instruction, the SGRI program called for students to be exposed to language and f eedback from tutors that promoted the development of academic self efficacy. Tutors verbally success es and peer modeling to provide students with demonstra tions of what it looks and feels like to be successful with reading. Verbal persuasion was also used as a method to help students attribute successes in reading to specific behaviors that they displayed during
59 tutoring. Another means of promoting academic self efficacy during the SGRI program physiological state or feelings related to the progress made regarding during reading activities (McCabe, 2006). T utors also facilitated instruction designed to build self regulatory competence. The SGRI lessons incorporated tutor prompts to promote reflection Prompts were also used to encourage students to think about and explain their strategy use or the tools they know to use to problem solve when faced with challe nging texts, vocabulary or learning activities At the end of lessons or at the end of each t utoring week, students could also evaluate their development of self regulated learning strategies using a self monitoring checklist. Due to the reciprocal relatio nship between self efficacy and self regulation, activities to build self efficacy and self regulation were usually not exclusive. Throughout the program, tutors implemented various discourses, strategies, and activities to build self efficacy and promote self regulated learning by encouraging students to (a) set goals, (b) become self reflective and self evaluative, (c) learn and utilize new skills and strategies, and (d) use strategic outcome planning and monitoring (Eisenberger, Conti ndo, 2005; Zimmerman, Bonner, & Kovach, 1996). In addition to instructional elements of social cognitive theory that allowed students to observe, emulate, and adopt self regulat ed learning strategies while also acknowledging growth for improved academic self efficacy (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007). The small group tutoring environment allowed participants to received constant feedback from tutors and peers. Please refer to Appendix G for examples of prompts and handouts provided to
60 tutors to help them build self efficacy and self regulatory competence during the SGRI lessons. Tutor Qualifications, Training and Supervision All SGRI tutors were certified elementary school teachers expe rience d in working in Title I populations with at risk students. Tutors were recruited through recommendations from principals, fellow teachers. Tutors participated in four hours of training regarding policies, practices, instructional methods, testing pro cedures, classroom management, and record keeping. Training also consisted of explaining, modeling, and role playing each lesson component and essential self efficacy building practice, and learning how to teach self regulatory strategies. When students ha d been placed appropriately in a small gr oup, each group was assigned one tutor who consistently provided instruction throughout the duration of the intervention. Follow up training was conducted during the course of the intervention. A lso assistance was available when SGRI staff recognized the need, and when tutors requested. The fidelity of the SGRI tutoring program was evaluated using tutor logs of attendance progress through lesson plans, student progress monitoring, progress reports, and through moni toring by the SGRI program support team and the researcher. Tutors were required to take attendance daily and track the progress made through each of the lesson plans. R ecords help ed guide decisions relating to the intensity of the treatment. Attendance re cords also guided the researcher in identifying students who did not complete the entire program. Tutors were also required to administer brief progress monitoring asse ssments to each student after every five lessons. The results were used to create progre ss reports
61 increasing reading achievement scores. Tutors were expected to use the progress monitoring results to reflect on their practice and adjust their methods to b etter meet student needs. Another essential method of addressing concerns about the implementation of the SGRI tutoring program was the utilization of two research assistants as a program monitoring team. These research assistants were c ertified teachers t hat did not teach in any of the schools where SGRI was being implemented They had previous experience as program monitors who were two years prior to the SGRI program. They participated in the same trainin g that was provided to the tutors, but they were also instructed, but they were also instructed to monitor and supervise the tutors. Because they also attended the tutor training, they were made aware of the social cognitive elements, including strategy instruction, goal setting, reflection, modeling, and positive feedback, which were expected to be evident in the SGRI lessons conducted by the tutors. The monitoring team used a checklist to observe the following: tutors keeping students focused and on task, following lesson formats, incorporating self efficacy and self regulation building activities, managing student behavior, maintainin g a positive and encouraging presence and using the entire 90 minutes for SGRI tutoring. Monitors were encouraged by the researcher to immediately make corrections, when necessary, and to model appropriate behaviors as needed. Tutors were given brief oral or written feedback that either informed them of changes that needed to be made or encouraged them to continue with the great job that they were doing. Please refer to Appendix H to see the observation checkl ist that was
62 used by the research assistants who took observation notes and monitored the tutoring program. Data Analysis This section will explain how data were analyzed during this study using quantitative analyses, qualitative analyses, and mixed methods analysis. The level of significance for each s Preliminary Analyses An analysis of pre treatment reading achievement levels was conducted to identify differences in the experimental group and comparison group prior to any pre testing. An independent samples t test comp aring mean scores of the experimental group and comparison group using their 2008 developmental scale scores from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) was conducted. These results showed that there were no significant differences in reading abi lity between the experimental and comparison groups prior to the intervention. Within Group Pre Test/Post Test Analyses Dependent samples t tests were used to examine whether students who participated in the SGRI made significant gains on the dependent var iables (reading achievement, self efficacy, and self regulated learning). The t test is appropriate when two observations (pre and post test) are made on each participant. The t test provided information on whether the difference between pre and post tes t scores was due to chance or to a true difference in scores that may be a result of the SGRI tutoring intervention (Shavelson, 1996).
63 Between Group Pre Test/Post Test Analyses To examine the differences in scores on the dependent variables between the experimental group and comparison group, one way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used with pre test scores set as the covariates. The pu rpose of conducting the ANCOVA wa s to remove variability due to individual differences between the treatment and com parison groups by adjusting post test scores according to differences in pre way ANOVA for bet ween subjects designs (Shavelson, 1996, p. 504). Effect sizes were benchmarks for effect sizes where .20 is considered small, .50 is medium, and .80 is considered large. Qualitative Analyses Data collected from student int erviews and tutoring observations were analyzed using iterative and inductive ethnographic procedures. The goal of ethnographic data rison, 2003, p. 78). Open coding was used to conduct a line by line exploration of the semantic relationships that exist within the data. During coding, small units of text w ere labeled semantically. T he constant comparative method was implemented to ident ify differences and similarities found in the codes in order to group codes and build evidence to establish overarching perspectives and taxonomies for thematic data a nalys is as a guide, the data were analyzed for themes and processes, (d) activities, (e) strategies, and (f) relationships and social structures. The
64 analysis progressed f rom narrow domain specific contexts to broader themes that Small Group Reading Intervention (SGRI) tutoring program. The researcher shared summaries of field notes with students who participated in the SGRI tutoring program to verify that th e account of their experiences wa s accurate. The researcher also shared all interview protocols and observation notes with an external auditor who was also a doctoral student and a re search assistant. The external auditor identified codes and common themes. This was done to ensure agreement that codes had been applied accurately. Agreement was found to be consistent between the researcher and external auditor. Mixed M ethods Analysis In order to discover whether themes were correlated with significant findings relating to reading achievement, self efficacy and self regulated learning, data transformation was conducted on the interviews and observations. The qualitative data were quantitized To quantitize the qualitative data, data from emergent themes found from the coding process were converted into frequency counts and frequency manifest effect sizes (Creswell & Plano Clark 2007; Onwuegbuzie & Teddlie, 2003). F requency manifest effect sizes can be used in mixed methods research to establish the Teddlie (2003), this kind of effect size uses percentages to represent specific counts or fr equencies in which meaningful statements or observations were present within the qualitative data set. Frequency manifest effect sizes are calculated into percentages by dividing the number of participants who cite a theme by the total number of participan ts. Using a graphic flow chart to create a matrix for data display, the distributions of themes
65 were correlated to the reading achievement, self efficacy and self regulated learning scores of students who participated in the SGRI tutoring program. Verific ation The verification of inferences prior to generating final c onclusions regarding the data is critical. In mixed methods research, the process of validating the accuracy of deductive and inductive conclusions is referred to as either legitimation or inf erence quality (Teddlie & T ashakkori, 2003). Data were verified quantitatively via the inclusion of descriptive and numerical information regarding the number of participants, sampling procedures, pilot testing, and reliability and validity of the measures being utilized in the study. In qualitative research, it is important to discuss trustworthiness, which refers to implementing several procedures that will ensure the accuracy of findings and interpretations. The researcher established the trustworthiness of the data in several different ways including data triangulation. Multiple data sources, observation field notes and student interview protocols, were used together to build and justify themes. Data triangulation also occurred through the development of the matrices, which displayed the correlation among reading achievement, self efficacy, and self regulation scores with the themes derived from observations and interviews. Other forms of ensuring trustworthiness included spending prolonged time in the fi eld, member checking, using an external auditor, clarifying researcher bias, and using rich, thick descriptive language to convey findings (Creswell, 2003; Glesne, 2006; Onwuegbuzie & Teddlie, 2003). Throughout the course of the study, the researcher condu cted several observations of student participants during the beginning, middle and ending phases of the SGRI tutoring program. In addition to several observations, the
66 researcher spent prolonged time in the field by interviewing each participant in an open ended fashion. The researcher also established trustworthiness by asking students to participate in member descriptions were accurate. An external auditor provided another check of accuracy. The auditor reviewed codes and notes to corroborate the codes and themes identified by the researcher. Finally, thick, detailed descriptions of the setting, participants, methods and the role of the researcher, which can be found in other sec tions of this chapter, enable the reader to determine the credibility and transferability of the information presented. Role and Biases of the Researcher Clarifying the position and potential biases of the researcher is an essential element of ensuring the trustworthiness of the research. The researcher must remain reflective of her personal history, her role throughout the process, and her interpretations of the findings (Creswell, 2008). In this section I will discuss my own biases and the strategies that will be implemented to keep them from having an influence in the study. My professional experience includes working as an elementary teacher. I have taught second, third, fifth and sixth grades primarily in urban schools with high populations of at risk, minority students from low income families. I am also the owner of the tutoring company that offers the intervention being implemented. Essentially, I am an African American educator whose personal and professional experiences have led me to become an indi vidual who deeply wants to see an end to the achievement gap
67 between low income minority children and their more affluent, non minority counterparts. my field notes. I main tained a passive, unobtrusive position during observations, and I strived to ensure that the students w ere not made aware of or influenced by my position with the tutoring company. When I came across uncertainties, I searched for an answer within the data and avoided generating my own conclusions. In order to separate my own questions and assumptions, I maintained a reflexive journal of notes taken before, during and after interviews or observations. These reflexive notes also served as a source for clarify ing ideas, recording my feelings and generating new questions to ask the participants. The ultimate purpose of a reflexive journal is to promote the trustworthiness of my interpretations (Glesne, 2006). I consistently reflected on the idea that reality is socially constructed, and that often times the greatest meaning is derived from what is taken for granted (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). This belief system helped me to maintain an objective search for the taken for granted, less obvious aspects of what I saw and heard during this investigation.
68 Table 3 1. Demographic data of participants Characteristic N % Male 17 45.9 Female 20 54.1 Fourth Grade Students 16 43.2 Fifth Grade Students 21 56.8 Control 15 40.5 Treatment 22 59.5
69 Figure 3 1. Diagram of Research Design
70 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The quantitative findings generated from reading achievement tests and self efficacy and self regulated learning questionnaires are described in the first section of this chapter. The qualitative findings obtained from small group observations and student interviews are described in the second portion of this chapter. In the final section of this chapt er, findings pertaining to mixed methods are presented. Quantitative Findings The following research question was explored using quantitative analysis: What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and (a) reading achievement, (b) academic self efficacy and (c) self regulated learning in at risk African American elementary students? To investigate this question thoroughly and to assess the impact of the reading intervention the following hypotheses were tested: a) Participation in a small group tutoring interventio n will lead to an increase in reading achievement among the African American student participants. b) Participation in a small group tutoring intervention will lead to an increase in academic self efficacy among the African American student participants. c) Part icipation in a small group tutoring intervention will lead to an increase in self regulated learning among the African American student participants. d) African American students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will have higher reading achievement than comparison students. e) African American students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will have higher academic self efficacy than comparison students. f) A frican American students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will be more self regulated learners than comparison students. Preliminary Analysis To determine if there were statistically significant differences in the FCAT developmental scale score by group (treatment and control) prior to the beginning of the
71 treatment, an independent sample t test was conducted using an alpha level of 0.05. assumption of homogeneity of variances was met. There were 15 students in the contro l group and 22 st udents in the treatment group. The result of the t test was not statistically significant, t (35) = 0.79, p = .434, d = 0.27, 95% CI [ 237.15, 104.10], suggesting there were no statistically significant differences in FCAT developmental scale scores between the g roups (treatment vs. control). The mean difference was 66.52 with a 95% confidence interval of 237.15 and 104.10 points. Students in both groups were on the same academic level in reading prior to the implementation of the small group reading intervention. Results of the t test are presented in Table 4 1 Research Question 1(a) What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and reading achievement in at risk African American elementary students? Research qu estion 1(a) addresses Hypothesis 1, which investigates within group results: Participation in a small group tutoring intervention will lead to increased reading achievement in African American students. To investigate hypothesis 1, and to determine if ther e were statistically significant differences in reading achievement scores by time (pretest vs. posttest), for treatment only, a dependent sample t test was conducted using an alpha level of 0.05. The dependent sample t test was not statistically significa nt, t (21) = 0.91, p = .375, d = 0.18, 95% CI [ 7.34, 2.89], suggesting that there we re not a statistically significant differences in reading achievement scores b y time (pretest vs. posttest). The mean difference was 2.23% with a 95% confidence interval of 7.34 and 2.89 percentage points. The researcher fails to reject the null hypothesis. The students in the treatment, who participated in the small
72 group reading intervention, did not show a significant increasing in reading at the conclusion of the pro gram. Results of the dependent sample t test are presented in Table 4 2 Research Question 1(b) What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and self efficacy in at risk African American elementary students? Research question 1(b) addresses Hypothesis 2, which investigates within group results: Participation in a small group tutoring intervention will lead to increased academic self efficacy in African American students. To investigate hypothesis 2, and to determine if there were st atistically significant differences in the self efficacy survey scores by time (pretest vs. posttest), for treatment only, a dependent sample t test was conducted using an alpha level of 0.05. The dependent sample t test was not statistically significant, t (20) = 0.45 p = .658, d = 0.13, 95% CI [ 5.38 3.47], suggesting that statistically significant differences in self efficacy survey scores by time (pretest vs. posttest) were not found The mean difference was 0.95% with a 95% confidence interval of 1.31 and 5.84 points. The researcher fails to reject the null hypothesis. The students in the treatment, who participated in the small group reading intervention, did not show significant improvement in their individual self efficacy beliefs at the conclu sion of the program. Results of the dependent sample t test are presented in Table 4 2 Research Question 1(c) What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and self regulated learning in at risk African American elementary students ? Research question 1(c) addresses Hypothesis 3, which investigates within group results: Participation in a small group tutoring intervention will lead to increased self regulated
73 learning in African American students. To investigate hypothesis 3, and to determine if there were statistically significant differences in the self regulation survey scores by time (pretest vs. posttest), for treatment only, a dependent sample t test was conducted using an alpha level of 0.05. The dependent sample t test was not statistically significant, t (19) = 0.07, p = .943, d = 0.00, 95% CI [ 4.16 4.47], suggesting that there we re no statistically significant differences in self regulation survey scores by time (pretest vs. posttest). The mean difference was 0.15% with a 9 5% confidence interval of 4.16 and 4.47 points. The researcher fails to reject the null hypothesis. The students in the treatment group, who participated in the small group reading intervention, did not show a significant increasing in self regulation at the conclusion of the program. Results of the dependent sample t test are presented in Table 4 2 Research Question 1( d ): What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and reading achievement in at risk African American elementary s tudents? Research question 1(a), part 2 addresses Hypothesis 4, which investigates between group results: African American students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will have higher reading achievement than comparison students. To in vestigate hypothesis 4, and to determine if there were statistically significant differences in posttest reading achievement scores by group (treatment vs. control), after controlling for pretest scores in reading an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted using an alpha level of .05. indicating that the assumption of homogeneity of variances was met. The results of the 2 = .14, suggesting that differences by group exist, after controlling for pretest. The treatment group (M =
74 52.59, SD = 12.22) had a sta tistically higher mean reading achievement score on the posttest than the control group (M = 38.40, SD = 15.60). An eff ect size of .14 indicates a small strength of the relationship between the variables. Means and standard dev iations are presented in Table 4 3 and the results of the ANCOVA are summarized in Table 4 4 Research Question 1(e) : What is the relationship betw een a small group tutoring intervention and self efficacy in at risk African American elementary students? Research question 1(b), part 2 addresses Hypothesis 5, which investigates between group results: African American students that participate in a smal l group tutoring intervention will have higher academic self efficacy than comparison students. To investigate hypothesis 5, and to determine if there were statistically significant differences in posttest self efficacy survey scores by group (treatment vs control), after controlling for pretest self efficacy survey scores, an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted using an alpha level of .05. assumption of homogeneity of variances was met. The results of the ANCOVA was not statistically significant, F (1, 31) = 3.94, p = .056, suggest ing that differences by group did not exist, after controlling for pretest. Means and standard deviations are presented in Table 4 3 and t he results of the A NCOVA are summarized in Table 4 5 Research Question 1(f) : What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and self regulated learning in at risk African American elementary students? Research question 1(c), part 2 addresses Hypothesis 6, which investigates between group results: African American students that participate in a small group tutoring intervention will be
75 more self regulated learners than comparison students. To investigate hypothesis 6, and to determine if there were statistically significant differences in posttest self regulation survey scores by group (treatment vs. control), after controlling for pretest self regulation survey scores, an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted using an alpha le vel of .05. indicating that the assumption of homogeneity of variances was not met. The F statistic is robust against violations of normality and in situations where the variance is unequal provided group sizes are similar (Stevens, 2002). In this case, the ratio of largest to smallest group was >1.5 (20/11 = 1.82); therefore, caution should be used in interpreting significant findings The results of the ANCOVA were not statistically significant, F ( 1, 28) = 2.09, p 2 = .07, suggesting that differences by group do not exist, after controlling for pretest. Means and standard devi ations are presented in Table 4 3 and the results of the A NCOVA are summarized in Table 4 6 Descriptive statistics were also calculated for reading achievement, self efficacy, and self regulation at pre and posttest for treatment and control groups. For control, the scores on all three measures decreased from pretest to posttest. For treatment, the scores in reading and self efficacy increased from pretest to posttest. The results are presented in Table 4 7. Qualitative Analysis Research Question 2: What are the observed instructional experiences of at risk elementary aged African American students in the learning environment of a small group tutoring intervention? Multiple se ssions of the small group reading intervention were observed at three different schools at several different times throughout the tutoring intervention
76 (beginning, middle, and end) Ob servations lasted for 60 to 90 minutes of the tutoring session. At the first school, observations were held for six sessions. At the other two schools, observations were held for eight sessions. Approximately four to five students were involved in the tuto ring sessions; however, students were sometimes absent, altering the number of students present. Students were both male and female. The students at school one sat in a semicircle around the tutor and participated in reading and writing activities. Throug hout all sessions, the tutor offered strategies for better reading and reviewed strategies that were previously discussed in order to keep Several different reading styles were used. Sometimes the tutor read, so the stude nt would have someone to model after. On other occasions, the students read to practice inflection, fluency, and other good reading strategies. They often stopped to summarize what they had read and to clarify their comprehension of the text. During the se ssions, if students offered incorrect answers, the tutor encouraged them to keep trying and suggested other strategies to use that might allow them to find the correct answer, such as going back to the text to reread, using the glossary, or another helpful strategy. The tutor led many lessons, but also allowed other stu dents to often lead the lessons; asking peers to answer comprehension questions and having the group follow along as the student tutor read the story. The tutor constantly encouraged and prai sed all students. The tutor offered high fives for correct answers. Throughout the sessions, they worked on many different lessons, such as similes and metaphors, prefixes and suffixes, and fact and opinion. Sessions often ended with the tutor praising the students for a good session and stating that she enjoyed their time together.
77 The students at school two sat in a semicircle around the tutor and participated in reading and writing activities. Prior to each session, students were given snacks as an extr a incentive. The tutor frequently discussed strategies to improve reading and asked for input from the students. Some of the strategies they spoke about included making predictions, asking questions, paying attention to the headings, and looking at the pic tures to aid in comprehension. The students sometimes worked in groups and sometimes worked independently. Some students were more engaged than others and the tutor attempted to keep their attention by physically engaging the students. During one session, she had the students act out the vocabulary words. The children and tutor often laughed together and seemed to enjoy the tutoring sessions. The tutor constantly offered praise and encouragement. When students made mistakes when reading aloud, the teacher o As the sessions went on, one student seemed to consistently act out and be off task. The tutor addressed these actions by firmly but kindly reprimanding her. During one of the sessions, the tutor worked one on one with this student, while the other students in the group worked quietly and independently. The tutor was still available to answer any questions members of the group may have had. During another session, th e student and tutor worked on forming complete sentences. The lesson was conducted as a game and the student seemed to greatly enjoy it. By the end of the game, the student had mastered the ability to form complete sentences and was rewarded with a candy b ar. The tutor then pulled another student aside to work one on one. The other students seemed to work well without assistance. Students worked on different lessons throughout the tutoring session, such as synonyms and antonyms, fact
78 and opinion, and using context clues. For the last three sessions the same student seemed to remain distracted, but her attention was drawn back during the last session with the use of a game. Sessions seem to be organized and overall productive. The students at school three sa t in a classroom with the tutor in an authoritative position, but not always in a semicircle. They had snacks before begi n ning every lesson. Not all students in the classroom were involved in the tutoring session. The tutor was not the same throughout all the sessions. For the fifth session, there was a different tutor and it was run differently than the other sessions. In the fifth session, only two students were present. The session began by reviewing previous material. They moved on to comparing and cont rasting and the students discussed the reading strategies they used, such as chunking, sounding out, and using context clues. The tutor read aloud from the book and then the students read aloud. they were reminded of g ood reading strategies. When students were able to sound out a word on their own, the tutor offered a fist pump. One student was clearly discouraged but continued on because of the constant encouragement. Students were given praise and encouragement throughout this session. During the majority of the other sessions, however, there was minimal interaction between the tutor and the students. Typically, the students read silently and then answered questions that the tutor asked. lly had a monotone quality, and she rarely made eye contact with the students. When a question was e and seemed enthusiastic about the students successfully answering questions, but this was not
79 consistent. Students seemed to frequently be off task, and the tutor did not seem to pay attention to their poor behavior. At one point, a student raised his ha nd for three to five minutes, and the tutor never noticed because she was too engrossed in her own work. After a few sessions, the researcher tried to explain to the tutor the proper formatting of a guided tutoring session. The researcher spoke with the tu tor and gave examples of the types of dialogue and tutor to student interactions that promote self efficacy and the development of self regulated learning, but there was little change in her approach to the tutoring sessions that took place after these dis cussions. Comparisons of the themes from the three schools are presented in Table 4 8 Research Question 3: How do students perceive the small group tutoring intervention regarding its impact on: (a) reading achievement, (b) self efficacy, and (c) self re gulated learning strategy development? The 22 s tudent s who participated in the small group reading intervention were each interviewed individually by the researcher at the conclusion of the tutoring program. Through open coding, semantic relationships foun d The constant comparative method was implemented to identify differences and similarities found in the codes in order to group codes into larger clusters and build eviden ce to establish overarching perspectives and taxonomies (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007; Spradley, 1979). Based on frequency counts and an evaluation of the complementariness of the themes, eight overarching meta themes were established and defined from the interview data. These meta themes include: (a) confidence building, (b) increased reading ability, (c) reading strategy focus, (d) demonstration of self regulated learning, (e) tutor feedback, (f) access to help, (g) cooperative
80 environment, and (h) making learning fun. illustrate the themes found from each interview question and explain the students perceptions regarding the effectiveness of the SGRI tutoring program When asked to describe their overall feelings about the small group reading intervention, s tudents frequently expressed feelings that tutoring was fun. They stated they had a good experience with their tutor (N = 8). A few students went on to describe their tutor as being a good teacher or doing a goo d job with helping them read better. The participants stated that they enjoyed working with the ir tutor (N = 17) and that the tutor helped them learn (N = 7). Participant 3 felt t 15 stated that the tutor helped them with better reading, more focus, and better comprehension of reading. Participant 20 said that the tutor made the subject fun, which h elped make understanding the material easier. Participant 14 said that even though they did a lot of work, working with the tutor was still fun. Students were asked to describe the most helpful aspects of the small group reading program. In response to th is question participants stated that help was available (N = 8) and the reading activities were helpful (N = 7). Some also stated that the tutoring program helped them become better readers (N = 5). Participant 6 said that if they needed help all they ha d to do was ask for it. Participant 9 said that the different reading activities they did were helpful, particularly summa rizing the text into paragraphs. P articipant 13 said that learning the main idea of the story was the most
81 helpful reading activity. P articipant 4 said that even though they practiced reading at home, the after school tutoring offered additional extra help. Almost all students concurred that being in the tutoring program helped them to think or learn in new or different ways. When aske d to describe the types of activities that the tutor implemented to facilitate their learning of new things the responses included reread ing the text (N = 7) and learning through playing games (N = 6). Participant 1 said that when they did not u nderstand something the tutor would go back in the text and reread with them to help the students understand. Participant 8 also said that the tutor would sometimes just tell the students to go back in the text and reread to find We used to t ake turns reading like a passage and like if we had messed u p on a try to help us correct the word. A back over it and help ever response was that they all believe that they are good readers (N = 22). Participant 2 said, Participant 1 said, I am a good reader and I put more e I know I can do it and that is all that matters. Participant 22 said, y es, I am a good reader, and now I can read f aster Students were also asked to describe h ow they feel inside when they read Seven participants responded that they feel happy or good inside when they read. Participant 1 said that although In
82 response to this question part I already know the stuff about Interview Eighteen participants responded that the tutor helped them feel better about reading. Participants 1 and 14 express ed feel ing better about how they read because they felt comfortable around the tutor. Participant 12 said the tutor would make the students comfortable by reminding them to relax. During the i nterview s, students were asked to compare the way they used to read with how they read after the completion of the small group reading intervention. S ix participants said that they used to stumble over words when they would read, but they no longer do now. S ix participants also stated that they read faster now. Partic ipant 3 said them up in the dictionary so that I can comprehend the word. Participant 12 said I used to struggle on participan t 13 said used to read slow and skip over words Participant 22 agreed This student went on to say that the tutor helped him understand what he was reading. regulated learning strategies, students were asked kinds of things do good readers do when they are faced with a word or a story that is Participants responded that they would look up the meaning of
83 the word (N= 6). One student ly look it up in the dictionary. P articipant When participant 11 was asked wha t they thought a good reader Another student stated, B efore I ask anyone or go to my teacher ike a five hand [finger] rule that if I or diffi In response to question 12, the only consistent theme identified Twelve participants noted that they study to prepare for a difficult test or assignment. One student responded that they prayed to prepare and another stude nt said they try to focus on the positive. Students were Eighteen participants replied that they felt capable of reading a dif ficult book. Participant 4 said the more I practice at home with my parents, the better I get at reading. Participant 20 stated that, Participant 23 said I try to read ahead so that I can bet ter understand what I am reading later. Eighteen participants responded that tutoring has helped their grade, and seven participants
84 believe they will get either an A or B in reading during this school year. Participant s 1 and 14 believed that they will do better than they did before tutoring. Participant 15 said, There were no responses that indicated that the students would perform worse in reading than they had prior to the ir participation in the small group reading intervention. When asked to describe how they know when they are doing well in school or specifically in reading seven participants replied that their teacher tells them when they are doing well in school. Participant 3 said that the teacher will tell you when you have done well in school, however, in response to the questi on about reading the reply was I Participant 17 said that the teacher always gives us compliments and the rea ding teacher will give a thumbs up. your tutoring gr Seventeen of the students agreed that working in groups was fun or good, and six participants specified that other participants in the group helped them. Participants 1 and 2 both felt like th e group was fun, citing that they felt as though all the members of the group were friends. Participant 15 said it was fun. She stated that all the other To get an understand ing of the impact of working with a similar group of students, participants were asked to share their perspective s on how the others in the group affected their learning process Thirteen participants responded that others in the tutoring group helped with answering their questions. Both participants 5 and 6 said of Participant 2 said it helped to practice
85 had worked one on Of the participants, the majority (N = 16) preferred to work in a group opposed to one on one with a tu tor. Participant 13 The themes identified from participant interviews are presented in Table 4 9 Table 4 10 was created to provide the meaning of each meta theme along with a representative example of a significant statement made by participants in relation to each meta theme. Mixed Methods Analysi s: Research Question 4 The purpose of collecting both quantitati ve and qualitative data was to explore and reading assessment scores, feelings of self efficacy and self regulated learning behaviors. This section addresses the final research question of this study. reading achievement, self efficacy and self regulated learning results, build The small group after school tutoring interven tion resulted in the participants performing significantly higher in reading achievement than the students in the comparison group who did not receive after school tutoring. The intervention, however, did not yield significant growth over comparison studen ts in the area s of academic self efficacy and self regulated learning skills accor ding to quantitative measures. Using codes and themes found within the observation data and student
86 responses to interview questions, several essential elements were identifi ed as contributing factors to these results. During the mixed methods analysis data transformation was conducted by quantitizing the qualitative data. Themes generated from the interview questions were quantitized and translated into frequency manifest effect sizes. The s e frequency manifest effect sizes were calculated as percentage s by dividing the number of participants who cited a theme by the total number of participants included in the qualitative data set. The analysis revealed the percentage of students in the treatment group who made at least one statement relating to each th eme identified from the interview proces s. A total of eight meta themes were identified as being essential elements that contributed to the quantitative results of this investigation. These meta themes include: (a) confidence building, (b) increased readin g ability, (c) reading strategy focus, (d) demonstration of self regulated learning, (e) tutor feedback, (f) access to help, (g) cooperative environment, and (h) making learning fun. Support for these meta themes was based on the magnitude of their manifes t effect sizes and by evidence of their presence i n the observation data. reported perceptions of the tutoring program, showing that the significant improvement over the compa scores (p = .022) were influenced by all eight meta themes. Please reference Table 4 10 for detailed meaning s of each meta theme and example s of significant statement s made by participants in relation to each meta theme. Table 4 11 pr ovides a data display of the qu antitized meta themes with each corresponding frequency manifest effect size.
87 Unli ke the complimentary elements of the qualitative and quantitative data on reading achievement, the self efficacy and self regulated learning data collected from the student participants resulted in conflicting results. While the students reported that the tutoring program increased their reading ability (manifest effect size = 90.90%) and that they were more confiden t in their feelings about their reading abilities due to the tutoring program (manifest effect size = 90.90%) the quantitative self efficacy data revealed that they did not score significantly higher than comparison students who did not participate in aft er school tutoring (p = .056) Students also expressed that they we re more self regulated learners because of the reading strategy instruction received (ma nifest effect size = 86.36%) although their responses to the self regulation questionnaire did not support these claims Their responses also indicated increased knowledge of or utilization of self regulated learning behaviors (manifest effect size = 86.36%). This examination of the quantitative and qualitative results of this study indicate that there is a percep tions about their abilities and the way in which they respond to formal assessments of reading, self efficacy, and self regulated learnin g. Figure 4 1 was designed to illustrate the disconnect ion found within the efficacy and self regulated learning and the eight meta themes that were identified as essential elements of the small group after school reading intervention.
88 Table 4 1 Independent Sample t Test of FCAT Developmental Scale Scores (Treatment vs. Control) Variable Treatment Control M SD M SD T D f P FCAT DSS 1114.59 273.98 1048.07 211.91 0.79 35 .434 0.27 Table 4 2. Dependent Sample t Test on Variable Scores by Time (Pretest vs. Posttest) for Treatment Only Pretest Posttest Variable M SD M SD T P d Achievement S cores 50.36 13.24 52.59 12.22 0.91 .375 0.18 Self Efficacy Survey Scores 41.52 7.70 42.48 6.66 0.45 .658 0.13 Self Regulation Survey Scores 5 8.45 11.23 58.3 0 1 3.00 0.07 .913 0. 00 Table 4 3. Means and Standard Deviations of Posttest Scores by Group (Treatment vs Control) Variable Treatment Control M SD M SD Reading 52.59 12.22 38.40 15.61 Self Efficacy 42.48 6.66 37.69 11.18 Self Regulation 58.40 1 3.00 50.64 17.74 Table 4 4. ANCOVA on Reading Achievement Posttest Scores by Group (Treatment vs Control), after Controlling for Pretest Scores Variable df SS MS F p 2 Covariate 1 2442.55 2442.55 20.24 .000 0.37 Posttest achievement score 1 692.78 692.78 5.74 .022 0.14 Error 34 4102.37 120.66 Total 36 8341.03
89 Table 4 5. ANCOVA on Self efficacy Survey Posttest Scores by Group (Treatment vs Control), after Controlling for Pretest Scores Variable df SS MS F p 2 Covariate 1 205.50 205.50 2.92 .097 0.09 Posttest self efficacy survey score 1 276.83 276.83 3.94 .056 0.11 Error 31 2180.51 70.34 Total 34 58744.00 Table 4 6. ANCOVA on Self Regulation Survey Posttest Scores by Group (Treatment vs Control), after Controlling for Pretest Scores Variable df SS MS F p 2 Covariate 1 1200.50 1200.50 6.51 .016 0.19 Posttest self regulation survey score 1 382.25 382.25 2.09 .159 0.07 Error 28 5 160.25 184.29 Total 31 102543 .00 Table 4 7. Means and Standard Deviations for Reading Achievement, Self efficacy, and Self regulation at Pretest and Posttest for Treatment and Control Variable Pretest Posttest M SD M SD Reading Achievement Treatment 50.36 13.24 52.59 12.22 Control 42.20 14.31 38.40 15.61 Self efficacy Treatment 41.55 7.51 42.48 6.66 Control 45.14 6.16 37.57 10.75 Self Regulation Treatment 5 8.67 10.99 58.3 0 13.00 Control 5 6.49 11.33 50.64 17.74
90 Table 4 8. Comparisons of Observed Activities Found among Schools One, Two and Three Theme School 1 School 2 School 3 Sit in semicircle Yes Yes Yes Snacks Yes Yes Yes Review test scores Yes Yes No Set reading/learning goals Yes Yes No Tutor uses verbal praise and encouragement Yes Yes Yes One on one time with tutor Yes Yes No Students lead lessons Yes Yes Yes Tutor high fives students Yes Yes Yes Review previous work Yes Yes Yes Tutor encourages students to check their work Yes Yes No Tutor offers constant attention to the students Yes Yes No Do group work Yes Yes No Tutor physically engages students Yes Yes No Reading S trategies/lessons Chunking/break it down Yes Yes Yes Repeatedly discuss reading strategies Yes Yes No Picture walk Yes No No Making Prediction s Yes Yes Yes Track with their pencil Yes Yes No Group work Yes Yes No Main Idea Yes Yes Yes Summarizing Yes Yes Yes Building Fluency Yes Yes No Work on cause and effect Yes Yes No Work on fact and opinion Yes Yes No
91 Table 4 9. Table of Themes found from student interviews Interview Topic Theme Frequency Overall expe riences in the tutoring program It was fun 8 F eel ings about working with your tutor Helped me learn 7 Enjoyed working with the tutor 17 M ost helpful th ings about the tutoring program Help was available 8 Reading activities 7 Activities that tutor implemented to increase new learning and to clarify understanding Reread the text 7 Played games 6 Feelings about personal reading abilities I am a good reader 22 Feelings about the practice of reading Happy/good 7 Tutor helped me feel better about reading 18 Comparison of previous reading abilities with post tutoring abilities I read faster now 6 I used to stumble over words 6 Strategies implemented when faced with challenging reading tasks I look up the meaning of the word 6 Strategies implemented to prepare for a test or difficult assignment I study 12 Feelings about being able to read difficult texts Yes, I can read a difficult book 18 Effect of tutoring on grades in reading I will get an A/B in reading 7 Tutoring helped my grade 18 How progress is reading is judged My teacher tells me 7 Feelings about working in a collaborative group Others in the group helped me 6 Group w as fun or good 17 How learning was affected by being in a group They helped me with my questions 13 Tutoring preference: one on one or small group I like working in groups 16
92 Table 4 10 Meta Perceptions of Essential Elements of Small Group Tutoring Meta Theme Formulated Meaning Examples of Significant Student Statement Confidence Building Tutoring included activities and language from tutor that encouraged them to believe that they have high reading ability S Increased Reading Ability Students perceived themselves to be better at reading based on evidence from grades, teacher feedback, and personal assessments back and Reading Strategy Focus Instruction focused on specific skills and strategies targeted at reading development comprehending bigger words and understanding what passages we had Demonstration of Self Regulated Learning Students felt equipped with strategies and techniques for independent problem solving I reread the story before I start Tutor Feedback Tutors provided correction in a constructive manner and provided praise for student accomplishments Access to Help Students had a sense of security and an assurance that assistance would be available from the tutor or peers when needed on a Cooperative Environment Students enjoyed and described having a preference for working and learning from and with peers catch on or we caught on together. So they were always helping, you know, hey actually, um, made me fee Making Learning Fun Tutoring made students feel that receiving instruction and learning about reading can be an enjoyable experience
93 Table 4 11. Frequency Manifest Effect Sizes of Student Generated Essential Elements of Small Group Tutoring Meta Theme s Frequency Manifest Effect Sizes Confidence Building 90.90% Increased Reading Ability 90.90% Reading Strategy Focus 86.36% Demonstration of Self Regulated Learning 86.36% Making Learning Fun 86.36% Cooperative Environment 86.36% Access to Help 81.81% Tutor Feedback 72.72%
94 F igure 4 1. Tested Qua n t it ative Measures for Treatment and Control Groups and Related Qualitative Meta themes Based on Treatment Group Perceptions
95 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to social cognitive theory to African American students in a small group tutoring intervention. The research was concerned with testing the impact of facilitating social cognitive development instruction in a s mall group tutoring intervention that was designed to improve reading achievement and academic self perceptions among at risk African American students. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize these findings, describe the implications of the study, and provide suggestions for further research. Summary of Findings Research Question 1(a) What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and reading achievement in at risk African American elementary students? The re ading achievement results of this study demonstrate d that low performing African American students who participate d in a small group reading intervention outperformed comparable students. The students who did not participate actually suffered a significant decrease in readi ng achievement between pretest and posttest. The results imply that at risk African American students do indeed benefit from the extra help outside of the regular school day Students who receive additional instruction in an after school, small group envir onment have an increased chance of improving their performance in reading over those students who do not take advantage of or have access to such opportunities
96 Research Question 1(b) What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and self efficacy in at risk African American elementary students? The self efficacy questionnaire results did not indicate that the small group reading intervention caused a The s tudents in the treatment group reported feelings of high self efficacy even prior to the small group reading intervention. The lack of a significant change in their self efficacy may be due to the fact that their pretest scores were relatively high to begi n with. There efficacy post test results. It is not enough for students to simply feel good about or have confidence in their abilities. S elf efficacy must be coupled with the active implementation of self regulated learning skills in order to truly impact academic performance ( Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007 ) These data support the need for both. Students not only need to have positive thoughts about their ability to learn, they must also have the necessary skills to problem solve and overcome academic challenges. Another point to draw attention to is that t here was slight improvement in the self efficacy in comparison to students who did not receive tutoring. The re sults also reveal that the students who did not re ceive any after school tutoring actually decreased in their self efficacy regarding their academic abilities from pretest to posttest. On the basis of these findings, it can be suggested that participating in small group tutoring may help to both maintain and prevent a loss of a positive outlook regarding reading abilities in low performing African American upper elementary sch ool students
97 Research Question 1(c) What is the relationship between a small group tutoring intervention and self regulated learning in at risk African American elementary students? The quantitative portion of the study indicates that the small group re ading intervention did regulated learning. As suggested by Winne & Perry (2006), there can be great difficulty in accurately measuring the self regulated learning behaviors of young children. Some stude nts did not respond to each survey item, which could signify that the students may not have completely understood the self regulated learning portion of the questionnaire. Although the survey was modified specifically for this age group and had been previo usly implemented on a younger age group, a survey that asks children to decide whether or not a statement describes them may cause some confusion because young children may not be able to differentiate whether a characteristic describes them in one particu lar instance or overall. ( Winne, Jamieson Noel, & Muis, 2002). Research Question 2: What are the observed instructional experiences of at risk elementary aged African American students in the learning environment of a small group tutoring intervention? Th e observation s conducted on three out of the five tutoring groups revealed that the tutoring program contained several elements of instruction including goal setting, focusing on specific reading strategies, and opportunities to teach and learn from peers. Observations that took place throughout the tutoring intervention verify that the participants received explicit instruction in several areas of literacy including vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension. All three observed tutors consistently offer ed students verbal praise and encouragements throughout the lessons. T wo out of
98 the three tutors also provided constant attention and frequent one on one time with each student in the group. The tutoring elements observed in this study are consistent with several studies utilizing research based instructional strategies which resulted in gains in academic achievement ( Osbo rn, et al., 2007; Van Keer, 2004; Vaughn et al., 2003 ). The observations also show that there were some inconsistencies with how the tutoring program was implemented. One tutor in particular cho se to focus heavily on independent practice rather than facilitating cooperative work, unlike the other observed tutors. The students in this group had lower post test scores in reading achieveme nt than the other groups of students. This difference in implementation may have had a Research Question 3: How do students perceive the small group tutoring intervention regarding its impact on: (a) reading achievement, (b) self efficacy, and (c) self regulated learning strategy development? T the small group reading intervention revealed that it was a very positive experience for them. They repeatedly acknowledged how t heir tutor and their peers in the group made working on their reading skills an enjoyable experience. Tutors were described as being good at teaching reading strategies that made them read better and offering help in a way that was understandable whenever they needed it. Students expressed a clear preference for working in a group with peers rather simply working one on one with the tutor. Access to help from their peers and the opportunity to sometimes teach their peers were among the common themes that co ntributed to their belief that tutoring helped them become better readers.
99 T he participants expressed with definitive confidence that they were good at reading and that their reading skills had improved as a result of the tutoring program. Several student s described the reading strategies they learned that will help with reading challenging texts and decoding difficult vocabulary words. S tudents expressed statements that exhibit an improved ability to regulate their own learning processes in order to solve problems that may come up. Student gave numerous examples of how they have learned to either change their thought process or alter their actions in order to decode long words, read challenging texts or prepare for an upcoming test. Based on this data it is evident that the students belief that the tutoring intervention, the tutor as an individual, and the peers within the group all had a positive impact on their reading ability, self efficacious feelings about reading, and their ability to be more self re gulated in their learning. Research Question 4: self efficacy and self There was minimal agreement between the students t est scores on reading achievement, self efficacy, and self regulated learning and their self described and observed experiences during the small group reading intervention. Reading Achievement Participants in the small group tutoring intervention showed s ignificant gains in reading achievement in comparison to similar students who did not receive after school tutoring. Observation and interview data indicate several themes that made an impact learning reading strategies and skills, tutor feedback, access to help from the tutor and peers, the
100 opportunity to work cooperatively in a group, being in a setting where learning is fun and developing a sense of increased reading ability. The cooperative working environment of the small group appeared a key factor in they learned more and have become a better reader from having the opportunity to work wit h their peers during tutoring. During the post intervention interviews, participants expressed that the tutoring program made them more equipped to be better readers and earn better grades in reading. When asked to compare their current reading ability wi th how they read prior to completing the tutoring program, students stated that they have less difficulty with challenging words. Students also claimed that tutoring helped them to become more fluent and expressive with their reading. Observation data corr oborate these statements, show ing that the tutors providing instruction which implemented several reading strategies, such as chunking to decode large words making predictions to mentally prepare for reading a new text and repeated readings to build fluen cy were frequently being reinforced during tutoring sessions. These results indicate that tutoring can be an effective intervention tool when seeking to increase reading performance for low performing, low income African American fourth and fifth graders. Self Efficacy There was a disconnect ion between the self efficacy questionnaire data and the perceptions. Although the numerical data indicate a slight, but not significant, change in self efficacious feelings, the majority of the students describe feelings of high
101 efficacy did not yield higher scores in reading achievement upon completion of the tutoring program. Although the students who were tutored performed significant ly better in reading in comparison to students who were not tutored, individually they did not have a dramatic increase in reading achievement. The African American studen ts in this study may have judge d their academic performan ce using their own standards and may view grades or test scores as a less meaningful indicator of success as their own attitudes or feelings. Another possibility is that the students felt so good abo ut their reading abilities that they did not put the necessary effort into achieving a good score on the test (Pershey 2010). S tudents with high academic self perceptions and self efficacy typically outperform s tudents with low self efficacy. However, havi ng overly high confidence in oneself may lead to an unfortunate contradiction between feelings and actual performance (Long, et al., 2007). Self Regulated Learning The area of self regulated learning resulted in another incongruity between scores and their self reported feedback at the conclusion of the small group reading intervention. improvement in self regulation behaviors although the students reported that their use of self regulated learning behaviors had improved. More noteworthy is the fact that regulated learning behaviors did not equate to improved reading ability upon completion of the tutoring program. Although the students who were tutored performed significantly better in reading as compared to students who were not tutored, they did not individually have a dramatic increase in reading achievement which was the goal of the tutoring program
102 Limitations Results from this evalua tion must be interpreted with caution due to several limitations. Although comparison students were matched with participating students and were found to be on a similar reading level using FCAT scores, neither random nor systematic assignment was not util ized. Participation in an after school tutoring program requires that the students be present. Therefore some students were placed in the treatment group because they had no transportation to get home afterwards or their parents did not send them to school regularly. Thus the sample size of the treatment group had to be reduced because some children moved out of the area and could not be located for post testing. Secondly, sample size affects the generalizability of the research findings Small sample size which is apparent in the current study, is a limitation of this research This study due to its mixed methods nature must be subjected to the scrutiny of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. For instance, the data from the questionnaire revealed that there was a slight increase that was approaching significance in self efficacy for those students who received tutoring. The increase may have been significant if the sample size were larger. Another potential limitation relati ng to the questionnaire was the wording of some of the questions. On the self regulatory competence portion of the questionnaire, two items were required to be reversed scored. It is possible that the wording of a statement such as those made in items 9 an d 16 may have been misunderstood by the student participants. Furthermore, d ue to the time and effort required to interview each student who participated in the intervention and to conduct numerous observations on multiple small groups of students, a large sample size was not realistic for this mixed methods
103 research. The results are only generalizable within the context of remediation for low income, low performing African American elementary students. Implications The current research has theoretical and practical implications that contribute to the literature regarding reading achievement, self efficacy and self regulated learning in under achieving African American elementary students f rom low income homes. This finding revealed that small group tutorin g in an after school setting is an appropriate means of increasing reading achievement with this population of struggling students. heory This theory posits that academic self efficacy and s elf academic success and that instruction can be facilitated to increase these areas among self regulation habits emphasize t hat these feelings and behaviors can be taught through small group tutoring. Typically, high academic self perceptions are correlated w ith higher academic performance ( Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007). The study at hand cannot sta tistically support this propositi on African American children participate in after school programs that are federally funded, school based or operated by private organizations more than children of any other ethnicity (Carver, & Iruka, 2005; US Department of Education, 2007). Although the fede ral government has allowed states to be waived from Supplemental Educational Services (SES), the mandatory tutoring requirement of No Child Left Be hind (NCLB), some states, includi ng those granted a waiver, may still offer after school tutoring usi ng Title I funds. The waiver from the U.S. Department of Education specifies that states and districts strive to implement systems that could close the achievement ga p, improve
104 equity and facilitate capacity building efforts involving interventions that f ocus on the lowest performing schools (US Department of Education, 2012) Findings from the present study support the need for SES and other forms of after school tutoring to continue to be available to this population of students The data indicate s that the reading achievement of low income, at risk African American students attending low performing schools can improve from receiving small group tutoring in an after school environment. According to the African American students in this study, this format of tutoring caused them to acquire reading strategies, feel capable of overcoming reading difficulties, and have access to much needed help. They repor ted that being in a small tutoring group with their peers contributed to their success in reading which w a s evident in the fact that students who did not experience small group tutoring performed significantly lower in reading. Recommendations for Future Research Research shows that students with high academic self efficacy tend to perform better on academi c tasks like tests and school grades than students with low academic self effi cacy. Further research needs to be done to investigate w hy African American students may have high academic self efficacy but their test scores do not reflect high ability. It is essential that educators learn h ow these students truly feel about standardized tests in order to have an increased chance of closing the achievement gap. dardized reading assessments along with their relationship to how students perceive their own reading abilities is an area lacking in research In American society, it is common practice to conduct annual standardized tests and dissect the data according to how
105 students from various racial groups and income levels out rank each other (Snyder, Dillow, & Hoffman, 2007) The sam e effort should be put into large scale interviews and other qualitative measures that could shed light on why the academic self perceptions of some African Ameri can children do not m atch their academic performance. Furthermore, there needs to be more research regarding methodological practices for evaluating self regulation in elementary aged students. We know that self regulated learners are typically able to at tain higher academically. However, in order to know whether or not our instructional practices are effective, we need to be sure that we are regulation behaviors. Conclusion Three major conclusions emerged from this exploratory analysis of the observations, student interviews, reading achievement pre and post test scores, and self efficacy and self regulated learning questionnaire in relation to the after school tutoring intervention for low performing 4th and 5 th grade African American students from low income homes. 1. P articipating in small group tutoring where specific reading strategy instruction is implemented results in significantly im proved reading reported descriptions of self efficacy and self regulated learning development, t utor interactions that involve explicit praise, encouragement, and constructive feedback lead to improve d reading achievement 3. P eer support and interaction in the small gro up tutori ng environment has a positive strategies, and overall enjo yment of reading.
106 Table 5 1. Summary of Tested Measures Showing Areas of Significant Cha nge in Student Performance After Completing the Reading Intervention Variable Within or Between Group Significant Change P value (a) Reading Within No .375 (b) Self Efficacy Within No .658 (c) Self Regulation Within No .913 (d) Reading Between Yes .022* (e) Self Efficacy Between No .056 (f) Self Regulation Between No .159
107 APPENDIX A STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE Part A. in feel. The bigger the number, the more the statement describes you. The smaller the number, the less it describes you. There are no right or wrong answers, so just answer as best as you can. 1. I believe I will receive an excellent grade in my reading class. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 2. I am sure I can understand the hardest things that I will have to read in my reading class. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 3. I am very sure that I can understand the information taught in my reading class 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 4. I am very sure that I can understand the most challenging material my teacher gives me to do in my reading class. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well
108 5. I am very sure that I can do an excellent job on the assignments and tests in my reading class. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 6. I believe that I will do well in my reading class. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 7. I am sure I can learn the skills that are taught in my reading class. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 8. Thinking about how difficult my reading class may be, thinking about my teacher, and thinking about my own reading skills, I think I will do well in my reading class. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well
10 9 Part B. statements to you about the learning strategies that best describes how you feel. The bigger the number, the more the statement describes you. The smaller the number, the less it describes you. There are no right or wrong answers, so just answer as best as you can. 9. things. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 11. out. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 12. If my reading assignments are hard to understand, I change the way I am reading. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well
110 13. Before I study something new for school, I often skim it to see how it is organized. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 14. I ask questions to make sure I understand the reading assignments for school. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 15. I try to change the way I study in order to match my class and the way my teacher teaches. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 16. story was all about. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 17. I try to think about what I am reading and figure out what I am supposed to learn from it instead of just reading it over again. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well
111 18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 19. When I study something for school, I set goals for myself so that I know what I should be doing every time I study. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well 20. If I get confused about something in my reading class, I make sure I figure it out later. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 describe me at all Kind of describe me Kind of describes me Describes me very well
112 APPENDIX B STUDENT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS The interview questions will be asked orally and student answers will be audio taped. Confidentiality will be protected and consent will be obtained prior to the interview. Verbal Instructions: Today I am going to ask you some questions about reading, school and the tutoring program that you recently finished. This is not a tes t. I just want to know what your thoughts are. 1) Can you tell about me your experiences in the tutoring program? 2) How did you feel about working with your tutor? 3) Do you think tutoring has helped you to think or learn in different ways? 1. Can you describe those ways that tutoring has helped you think or learn? 4) Can you describe the types of activities that your tutor did to help you learn new things? 1. What kinds of things did your tutor do when you did not understand something? 5) How do you feel about how well you can read? 1. a. Do you think you are a good reader? 2. b. What makes you say that? 6) How do you feel inside when you read? 1. a. Did you feel any other ways when you read when you were in tutoring? 7) Did your tutor help you to feel better about how well you can read? 1. a. What kinds of things did she do to help you? 8) How would you compare the way you used to read with how you read now that you have finished tutoring? 9) What kinds of things do you do when you are confused by a word or a story that is difficult to un derstand?
113 1. What kinds of things do good readers do when they are faced with a word or a story that is difficult to understand? 10) What kinds of things do you do to prepare for a test or difficult assignment? 11) Do you believe that you can successfully read d ifficult stories or books? 1. Can you explain why you feel that way? 12) How well do you think you will do in reading and in school this year? 1. How has tutoring affected your grades at school? 13) How do you know when you are doing well in school? 1. How do you know when you are doing well in reading? 14) What was it like to work with the other students in your tutoring group? 1. a. How did it feel to be in the same group as other students? 15) How did the others in your tutoring group affect your learning? 16) How do you think tutoring would have been if you had worked one on one with the tutor instead of being in a small group? 17) What were the most helpful things about the tutoring program? 18) What were the least helpful things about the tutoring program?
114 APPENDIX C UF IRB APPROVAL
115 APPENDIX D DUVAL COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS RESEARCH APPROVAL
116 APPENDIX E PARENTAL CONSENT FORM
118 APPENDIX F STUDENT ASSENT SCRIPT
119 APPENDIX G TUTOR TRAINING HANDO UTS Selected Learning Strategies for Reading 1. Clarifying difficulties encountered. Slowing down to read more carefully, checking back and rereading when text meaning is unclear. 2. Self questioning. Questions that students can ask themselves to understand the 3. Predicting what will come next. Stopping to anticipate what the author will say or conclude next before reading a text passage. 4. Summarization. Paring down passages to their core meaning by eliminating trivial or redundant information and inventing a topic sentence. 5. Relating text to prior knowledge. Relating ideas in text to previously stored information, often in the form of analogies, examples, extensions and comparisons. 6. Muscle Reading provides students with a technique for extracting i nformation from extended passages and textbooks before, during and after reading. 7. Self Instructed Reading 8. Stop and Think 9. Requesting Help 10. Accepting Feedback
120 Teacher (Student) Feedback Prompts to Promote Self Efficacy Category Examples Enactive Mastery (accomplishment) Vicarious Experience (modeling) same thing, just as I am (Oscar is) about to do. Verbal Persuasion (attribution) Physiological/Affective State (feel ing ) From McCabe (2006). Convincing students they can learn to read:Crafting self efficacy prompts
121 Prompts for Reflection Prompts for Helping Students Explain Their Strategy Use I learned that I need a bette
122 Monitoring Checklist Name__________________________ Date______________ Yes Sometimes No A s I read, I checked my understanding by relating what I was reading to what I already know picturing the story in my mind making predictions summarizing what I understood asking myself questions stopping and clarifying what I read before reading on other strategy: Summary of my strategy use: ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
123 APPENDIX H R MONITORING CHECKLIST
124 Keys to Effective Tutoring Close coordination with Classroom Teacher leads to greatest gains in student achievement Constantly evaluate student progress and provide meaningful feedback Keep students engaged and motive Tutors should ask more questions and allow students to do most of the talking SCAFFOLDING!!! Expert Tutor Behaviors Novice/Ineffective Tutor Behaviors Provide specific procedures, concepts, strategies & facts Provide long explanations Ask open ended questions & allow more opportunities for student talk Talk more, and students talk less Use scaffolding to vary the level of assistance given Tend to quickly tell the answer when Pro vide immediate and relevant feedback Provide inappropriate or vague feedback Access prior knowledge Prepare students for difficult vocabulary Make connections between text and the world Provide numerous opportunities for practice Prompt students to explain their thinking Clarify progress for students Summarize at the end of tutoring sessions Tutor Motto: Ask More, Tell Less
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133 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Grace Rhenae Huxtable Mount has a Jamaican family heritage She was the baby of four children and one of the youngest among a close knit extended family of numerous aunts, uncles and cousins She was born in Freeport, Bahamas where her family lived prior to immigrating to the United States when she was a tod dler. As a child and into adolescence she babysat children from her church and spent time volunteering and working in childcare and in the pediatric wing of a local hospital It was these experi ences that established her passion for working with children. Although she was raised in a household where no one had completed a high school education, she was taught by her family that an education was essential and was the key to a better life. She was told that God had a plan for her, and that she needed to do her best in school. After graduating from Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Grace went to the University of Florida to complete the Pro Teach p rogram and earn her Bachelor of Arts and Master of E ducation d egrees in elementary e ducation. During her undergraduate years, she was accepted into the University Scholars Progra m and conducted research on how African American students deal with race in the college setting. Grace was als o a member of Kappa Delta Pi and Epsilon Iota honor societies. From 2000 2003, s he was an active member of the Minority Student Education Guild where she served as Vice Presid ent and President helping expose minority students to the UF campus and volunte ering at the Boggy Creek Gang Camp for chronically ill children Upon graduating from the University of Florida, Grace began her career teaching third grade at Centennial Place Elementary School in Georgia. She later relocated to Jacksonville and married her husband, Jason Mount, also a Florida Gator, in 2005.
134 During that same year, Grace and Jason established their educational services company, Huxtabl e Education Group. They provide academic tutoring for low income students in several school d istricts. While man aging the tutoring company in 2 008, Grace earned her Specialist in Education degree in educational lea de rship from the University of Florida. In 2009, Grace opened The Learning Experience Academy of Early Education in Jacksonville, which provides care and preschool education for children under the age of 5. In 2011, she had the honor and privilege of being by The Learning Experience franchise with their annual Leader ship Award. Earning her PhD in educational l eadership has been the crowning moment of her career. Grace has a daughter named Mya who is an adorable and incredibly sweet little girl Grace and her family currently reside in Jacksonville where they continue to operate Huxtable Education Group and The Learning Experience They are avid Gator f ootball fans and will always cherish and support the University of Florida.