Robinson Elementary


The Effect of Students’ On-Task Behavior With a Variety of Flexible Seating Arrangements

Primary Researchers

Morgan Ash, Intern, Baylor University

Debra Matus, BS Ed, Mentor Teacher, Robinson Elementary, Robinson ISD

Cindy Barrier, MS Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

The purpose of this research is to determine whether flexible seating promotes on-task behaviors in students. Every day our class has thirty minutes of read-to-self time where students are expected to independently read from a library book or on Epic. The students express that they prefer to read in different locations around the room rather than at their desks, however the students seem to be less focused when they are allowed to move about the room. Researchers have emphasized that it is important for educators to create learning spaces that enhance learning experiences (Limpert, 2017). Limpert also states that “ Providing a space wherein comfort was a consideration was yet another opportunity to meet the needs of children. Being comfortable while learning impacted students’ abilities to stay alert and focused on the task” (Limpert, 2017). Therefore, the purpose of this research is to implement different methods of seating and evaluate which encourages the highest percentage of on-task behavior from students.

Question/Wondering

How does the implementation of three different seating methods affect students’ on-task behavior during independent reading time?

Methodology/Results

Over the course of three weeks, I will observe students in three different seating arrangements to track whether flexible seating promotes on-task behavior and reading progress during independent reading time. The first week students will be observed sitting in their normal, assigned seats, the second week they will be allowed to move to an assigned “flexible” seating arrangement and during the third week students will be able to choose where they would like to sit during independent reading time. Students’ on-task and off-task behaviors will be recorded on a tally chart during five-minute intervals for thirty minutes each day. The number of students who leave the classroom within each five-minute interval will also be recorded.

My results showed that flexible seating where students are allowed to read in locations around the room, promotes less on-task behaviors when compared to behaviors where students were told to read at their assigned seats. For example, during the first week of collecting data, students were told to sit at their assigned seats while they read independently. On average, students’ behavior was 89% on-task for 30 minutes and 12% off-task for 30 minutes. Data for the second week, where students were given an assigned flexible seating arrangement showed that students’ behavior was 79% on-task for 30 minutes and 21% off-task for thirty minutes. Finally, the third week of data collected was the result of students being allowed to choose their own flexible seating around the room. The results from the third week of data showed that on average 60% of behaviors were considered on-task for 30 minutes while 40% of behaviors were off-task for 30 minutes. I believe that students were more focused when they were at their assigned seats because they had less stimuli to distract them. When students were allowed to choose their seating arrangement, most students chose to sit directly next to their friends causing off-task behaviors to be increased. However, when students were told to sit in a flexible seating arrangement, the data did not show that they were more on-task. I believe that assigned flexible seating made the students feel less comfortable because they were not in an environment that they were used to, like their assigned desks, but they also were not in an environment that they freely chose and therefore were distracted by the stimuli around them.

Implications/Recommendations

Through conducting this research and observing students’ on-task and off-task behaviors I have concluded that flexible seating, on average, does not promote on-task behavior. In fact, based on three weeks of data collecting, flexible seating increases the amount of off task behaviors during independent reading time. However, despite my findings, other research has shown that flexible seating has a significant impact on students’ on and off task behaviors, where on-task behavior was promoted by flexible seating arrangements (Stapp, 2018). Therefore, I would recommend that future teachers and instructors consider flexible seating for individual students and implement the best type of seating for each of their students’ success.

Reference(s)

Limpert, S. M. (2017). A qualitative study of learning spaces at a midwest elementary school and its relationship to student attitudes about reading. (Doctoral dissertation, Lindenwood University, 2017) (pp. Ii-131). Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest LLC.

Stapp, A. (2018). Alternative Seating and Students Perceptions: Implications for the Learning Environment. Georgia Educational Researcher, 14(2), 36-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.20429/ger.2018.140204

 

 


Impacts of Using Extrinsic Motivation with Struggling Students

Primary Researchers

Meagan Bashara, Intern, Baylor University

Amanda Foster, Mentor Teacher, Robinson Elementary, Robinson ISD

Cindy Barrier, MS Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

While interning in 2nd grade, I’ve noticed 4 students that struggle with staying on task, speaking at appropriate times, and being fully engaged during math instruction. These students are falling behind in mathematics due to these behaviors, and the whole class often becomes distracted. Each student will have their own sticker chart, and for every 7 stickers they receive they can choose a prize from the treasure box. I believe implementing the use of extrinsic motivation will encourage these students to consistently be on task and follow all classroom expectations, and will help them achieve their full potential.

Question/Wondering

In what ways will positive reinforcement with sticker charts and incentives impact struggling students during math instruction?

Methodology/Results

The participants of my study included four 2nd grade students, consisting of 3 males and 1 female. Students 1 and 2 are Hispanic males, student 3 is a Caucasian male, and student 4 is an African American female. Throughout my time teaching these students, I’ve noticed that they lack self-confidence and the motivation to complete daily tasks at school. Student 1 fluctuates between RTI tier 2 and 3 and struggles to work independently. When I am guiding him during math instruction he often says things like “I don’t know how” or “I can’t remember” but once I prompt him he knows exactly what to do. Student 2 is considered RTI tier 3, and needs intensive individualized instruction. He wants to be able to comprehend the material and complete the tasks, but becomes frustrated and overwhelmed and eventually shuts down. His teachers and I have noticed that taking tasks in chunks rather than all at once seems to be more manageable for him. Student 3 is considered on grade level and is very bright, but due to his ADHD he becomes very off task and distracted which results in him falling behind in his work. When he stays on task and puts in the effort he is able to excel in his schoolwork. Student 4 is very outgoing and personable, but struggles with her behavior and a lack of effort. This student is very self-critical and often says she “can’t do it” when she is unsure of how to complete a task. As I was determining how I could best help these students achieve their full potential in mathematics and beyond, I wanted to see how using additional positive reinforcement and providing them with sticker charts would benefit them in the classroom. Every student in the class would have a sticker chart with their name on it, and would receive stickers for following expectations, staying on task, being at the appropriate voice level, raising their hand to ask a question, and any other ways I thought earned a sticker. After filling up an entire row of 7 stickers the student would be able to choose a prize from my treasure box. I hoped that these strategies would motivate them to stay on track and build their self-efficacy and confidence as students. Jennifer Diedrich states that “…educators can teach students appropriate behaviors by establishing classroom routines, modeling desired behaviors, and building naturally occurring reinforcement aimed at displaying positive behaviors and improving the classroom environment through the use of positive reinforcement” (Diedrich, 2010). The assessments I used for data collection consisted of student engagement forms, interaction forms, and student ISIP data. For the engagement form I would take a 10 minute sample during math instruction and every 30 seconds would observe the 4 students and record “+” if the student was on task and “–“ if the student was off task. After the 10 minute sample I would then calculate the percentage of how long each student was on and off task. On the interactions form I would record any behavior corrections or behavior praises I gave to each of the 4 students. Lastly, I would use the ISIP monthly assessment taken by the students on Istation to see if there was growth in their overall index score. The ISIP assessment consists of questions that increase in difficulty as students master skills. It can identify concepts that students may be struggling with and concepts that they are proficient in. The monthly assessment records an average score for 4 math domains including computations and algebraic thinking, measurement and data analysis, geometry, and number sense. I would use the January, February, and March scores for each student to determine any growth. The first thing I did was record baseline data on February 9th using the engagement form and interactions form, and I analyzed the ISIP assessment scores for the month of January. The average January ISIP score was 481, and student 1 scored a 469, student 2 scored a 437, student 3 scored a 552, and student 4 scored a 468. The average baseline data for student engagement indicated that the students were on task 66% of the time during the 10 minute sample. I recorded 0 specific behavior praises and 3 specific behavior corrections during math instruction. The first step I took following the collection of baseline data was introducing the class to the sticker charts. I presented a slideshow and explained that when I saw them displaying good behavior and following expectations in the classroom I would put a sticker on their chart. For every 7 stickers they earned, they could choose a prize from the treasure box. I then described the ways they could earn stickers could include being at a voice level 0 while a teacher or classmate is speaking, catching their blurts, raising their hand when they had a question or comment, staying on task and being engaged during lessons and activities, and being respectful to teachers and classmates. The whole class was extremely excited and wanted to earn stickers right away. I taped every student’s sticker chart on the back of their red folder so I could have easy access when putting on stickers. On Tuesday February 15th I collected the first week of data using the engagement and interactions forms. Student 4 was absent this day so the data collected was for students 1, 2, and 3. I recorded that the 3 students were on task for an average of 85% of the time, which was a huge difference from the baseline data! I recorded a total of 3 behavior praises and 3 behavior corrections. Week 2 data was collected on Tuesday February 22nd, and the students were on task for an average of 80% of the time. I recorded 6 behavior praises and 1 behavior correction, which was also a big improvement. Week 3 data was collected on Tuesday March 1st, and the students were on task for an average of 75% of the time. I recorded a total of 7 behavior praises and 2 behavior corrections. The average score for the February ISIP assessment was 490, which displayed growth from January. Student 1 received an average score of 469, student 2 scored a 443, student 3 scored a 574, and student 4 scored a 474. I collected data for the March ISIP assessment that was supposed to be completed before spring break, but unfortunately student 4 wasn’t completely finished. The average score for the other 3 students was 490. Student 1 scored a 458, student 2 scored a 430, and student 3 scored a 582. After collecting and analyzing 3 months of ISIP scores and engagement and interactions forms over 3 weeks, I can definitely say I saw positive growth in the students’ overall effort, motivation, and engagement during math instruction. I believe the positive reinforcement combined with extrinsic motivation did impact these students academically and behaviorally in multiple ways. Compared to the baseline data, the students were on task for a greater percentage of time, they received more praises, and their overall ISIP scores improved. The March ISIP scores for students 1 and 2 were a little bit lower, but I believe it’s because of the increasingly difficult questions asked as they work through more skills. Each of the students described in the study have displayed greater motivation and have been proud of themselves and their accomplishments. My mentor teacher was the one giving students stickers on Fridays since I’m not there, and when I came back to school every Monday they would be so excited to tell me they filled up a row. I also noticed that hallway behavior improved after implementing this strategy because students were wanting to earn stickers by being quiet and paying attention to directions given. Whenever students were working on something at their desk and they earned a sticker, I would tell them why they received it so they felt acknowledged and knew what they could do to earn stickers in the future.

Implications/Recommendations

The study I conducted has proven that positive reinforcement and extrinsic motivation does impact students academically and behaviorally, and I will use these findings throughout my teaching journey and in my future classrooms. I believe young children are both extrinsically and intrinsically motivated, but there needs to be a balance of both so they don’t become completely reliant on concrete items for encouragement (Project IDEAL 2022). If I could change my study for the future I definitely would use a different method other than the interactions form. I believe there was a positive correlation between the academic and behavioral improvement and the amount of praises, but I am not exactly sure how I would actually measure that. Next time I also would want to get input from the students by conducting a student survey of some sort and asking if they liked the sticker chart system and why or why not. After conducting this research I am curious if there is a difference between girls and boys and their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in school.

Reference(s)

Diedrich, J. L. (2010, April 1). Motivating students using positive reinforcement. Handle Proxy. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12648/5977

Positive reinforcement. Project IDEAL. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from http://www.projectidealonline.org/v/positive-reinforcement/

 

 


The Impact of Reinforcements on Student Engagement

Primary Researchers

Ashley Beekman, Intern, Baylor University

Amy Thomas, BS, Mentor Teacher, Robinson Elementary, Robinson ISD

Cindy Barrier, MS Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

A particular student is often disengaged and refuses to participate during whole group reading lessons. There are limitless strategies that can be implemented to address this issue, but the token economy system is an effective and research-based method (Maggin et al., 2011). In this system, students receive appealing reinforcements in exchange for desired behaviors. In an attempt to encourage participation, I will grant her five minutes of free time for five minutes of focused attention. If effective, the student will decrease in her distracted behaviors and increase in her attentiveness (Zlomke and Zlomke, 2003).

Question/Wondering

In what ways will five minutes of focused student attention in exchange for five minutes of free time impact the engagement of a third-grade girl during whole group reading lessons?

Methodology/Results

A week prior to implementing the reward system, I will observe the student and use Kid Watching, or behavioral notes, to track her tendencies during whole group reading lessons. I will also administer a student survey to gauge what might be occurring that is causing her lack of attention and opposition to engagement. Through this, she will simultaneously be able to communicate her interests so that I can utilize that information for her benefit in the classroom setting. Once I have collected this base line data, we will have discourse surrounding my desire for her to be more invested in our reading lessons. Together we will identify what behaviors we will work together to improve, and I will guide her to establish what the overall expectations are for her learning opportunities. Finally, I will introduce her to the reward system through which she will be able to receive free time in exchange for appropriate student behaviors. Over the course of three weeks, I will track her progress using Kid Watching strategies and encourage positive behaviors through gentle reminders of the expectations we set together.

Though the initial week of data collection proved to be a bit of a struggle at times, the subject responded very well once I reiterated our shared goal of five minutes of focused attention as a means to receive free choice. Quite early on in the study, the student began self-assessing and calling me over to review her behaviors without my own initiation. This communicated to me that she was engaging in reflection of her own behaviors and that she was able to identify what she did well and what areas she could strive to do better in the following day. The subject is an excellent advocate for herself and is bold in her defense of her positive behaviors. I found her confidence and ability to think about herself through a behavioral lens especially admirable. She is so brazen, that she began to propose the idea of free time in all subject areas and passionately reflected on her behaviors during math, science, and social studies lessons as well. I was deeply encouraged to witness my student extending past the research parameters of the reading lessons and striving to meet her learning goals throughout the entirety of the day.

Implications/Recommendations

After conducting my research, I have concluded that this student is highly autonomous and craves control in the classroom. What initially appeared as defiance may truly have been an outcry for independence and more choice in her learning. I recommend that the subject is given ample opportunities to assess her progress and be directed to an outlet to express her freedom to choose during various parts of the school day.

Reference(s)

Maggin, D., Chafouleas, S., Goddard, K., & Johnson, A. (2011). A systematic evaluation of token economies as a classroom management tool for students with challenging behavior. Retrieved January 1, 2022, fromhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022440511000495?via%3Dihub

Zlomke, K. & Zlomke, L. (2003). Token economy plus self-monitoring to reduce disruptive classroom behaviors. Retrieved January 1, 2022.

 

 


Flexible Seating During Whole Group Instruction

Primary Researchers

Grace Floyd, Intern, Baylor University

Cassidy Gibbs, BS Ed, Mentor Teacher, Robinson Elementary, Robinson ISD

Cindy Barrier, MS Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

I have a particular student in my third-grade class that struggles to remain focused during whole group instruction. He seems to always be moving and distracting himself and others. I have noticed this student easily becomes bored with instruction time and begins to find other ways to keep himself distracted. This may look like rolling around on the floor, blurting out or playing with something in his hand. This student is 9 years old, male, white, ADHD and average/low student. I wonder how flexible seating will help this student to focus during whole group instruction.

Question/Wondering

In what ways will the choice of flexible seating during whole group instruction (10-20 minutes) affect the identified student’s engagement and positive participation.

Methodology/Results

The identified student was observed based on the students engagement in four increments per day for three weeks along with kid watching throughout the whole group lesson. The first week focused on the assigned spot on the carpet and other two weeks were focused on the student’s choice of flexible seating. This student was also given a survey to present his preferences on both types of seating, traditional and flexible, as well as what he believed would encourage the best whole group behavior. The research took place at Robinson Elementary School in a third-grade classroom, on a nine-year-old white male student. The data and results were as follows. There was a significant difference between on and off task behaviors for the two seating options. Trends in data showed preference considering flexible seating was a significant factor in student engagement. Giving students a choice proved to be beneficial to the learning outcomes.

Beginning this research, I devoted one week to observing the identified student and his behavior with the regular seating option which was assigned on the carpet. The student was located center and front on the carpet. I recorded data based on a 10-minute interval of whole group instruction and determining if the student was observed to be either on task or off task every 30 seconds. Initially the student scored an average 51.5% on task. I observed this student to constantly be looking around the room, lowering his head looking at the ground/playing with his shoes/clothes or blurting out during the lesson. With these observations, I wondered if flexible seating during whole group instruction would benefit this student’s engagement and overall learning. Research focusing on the benefits of flexible seating has emphasized that student individualization within the classroom is the number one factor to students’ success, “giving students more control and responsibility, improving academic engagement” (Merrill, 2018). Granting the students this ownership over their learning experience encourages them to feel empowered and will most likely receive more from the lesson. Studies have shown the importance of emphasizing the students’ individual learning needs by allowing the student the freedom to discern in what ways or resources they can utilize within the “environment where they can control where they sit … causes them to stay involved in the learning experience” (Lynch, 2019). The goal is to make the students the most comfortable within the classroom to reduce learning anxiety which limits the student’s comprehension of content.

With this research-based data, I conducted a student survey with my identified student. We worked together to determine what the best option would be to improve engagement during the whole group instruction. Together we went through options that would promote students’ choice, adhering to the importance of students’ individualization. This student had realized that he often becomes distracting to himself or others during whole group instruction. With this conclusion we found a solution to allow this student to utilize the flexible seating that the classroom already had. We determined that this student would be able to use the orange swivel chair on the back corner of the carpet. Together we created expectations for him to use this flexible seating during whole group instruction. Following this collaborative step to support the student, I used the same measurement of collecting students’ data based on the engagement form. I noticed that with the addition of the choice of flexible seating for this student the engagement time increases to an average of 80% during the whole group carpet time. The student was less distracting to himself and to others. The student was more attentive during the lesson and would actively participate. The student was able to decide what would be best for him to feel the most comfortable in a learning environment therefore the behavior turned to positive. Overall, I noticed a positive relationship between the student’s engagement and the flexible seating.

Implications/Recommendations

After researching and collecting data regarding allowing flexible seating during whole group time I believe it is a beneficial practice for students who struggle to focus and stay engaged throughout the lesson. During my research, I was shocked to learn that “73 percent of students progress” (Merrill, 2018) was claimed to be due to the introduction of flexible seating into the classroom. Knowing my problem, students’ engagement during whole group time, I wondered if this would benefit my student. After implementing for this student free flexible seating and seeing such a difference in his engagement and participation as well as overall understanding of content and directions, I would recommend this to any teacher struggling with the same problem. I think it is important to allow the student to determine what the best option for themselves to promote individualization and create ownership over the child’s learning.

Reference(s)

Lynch, M. (2019, April 19). Do flexible classrooms really work? The Edvocate. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.theedadvocate.org/do-flexible-classrooms-really-work/

Merrill, S. (2018, June 14). Flexible classrooms: Research is scarce, but promising. Edutopia. Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/flexible-classrooms-research-scarce-promising

 

 


The Effect of Turn & Talk on Student Engagement

Primary Researchers

Julie Smith, Intern, Baylor University

Katie Paradoski, BS Ed., Mentor Teacher, Robinson Elementary, Robinson ISD

Cindy Barrier, MS Ed., Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

This research is being conducted with the purpose of discovering whether or not the involvement of the “Turn & Talk” strategy will be effective at increasing student engagement during instruction. This strategy involves the opportunity for every student to participate, share their opinion, and learn from those around them. This is a “constructivist approach to learning which views learners as active participants who have much to contribute to the teaching-learning process” (Nomlomo, 2010). This might offer shy students the chance to hear their answer affirmed thus increasing their desire to willingly participate and might also assist my talkative students in providing an outlet for speaking, so they might keep their comments to themselves when videos are being played or a teacher (myself or my mentor) is speaking. My students often have trouble controlling their comments and I think this detracts from engagement by pulling their focus in a multitude of other directions and getting them off task. I hope that this strategy increases engagement in the subject matter and offers students the chance to participate, thus increasing engagement.

Question/Wondering

How do more frequent Turn & Talk experiences change 3rd grade student engagement at carpet time?

Methodology/Results

To conduct this research, I plan to use a variety of sources to determine the outcome (the effect on student engagement). First, I will utilize my mentor teachers experience with Turn & Talk by asking her to compile a list of pros and cons, to better help me administer the method to the best of my ability. I believe this will help provide me with the greatest chance for success by helping me gain an understanding of how to effectively utilize the strategy. Next, I will offer a survey to my students to gage their initial desire in participating at carpet time, including their enjoyment or lack thereof regarding the Turn & Talk method. As we know, the more students are interested in a subject and enjoying the method of learning, the more engaged they will be. I will record student results using a self-assembled chart indicating whether they enjoy carpet time or not, if they like speaking on the carpet, and if they prefer sharing with a partner before speaking or speaking independently and why. In the Notes section, I will add the reasoning they provide for these claims. Lastly, I will track student engagement during carpet time both before and after lunch, to ensure that the time of day isn’t making an impact on my findings. Instead of trying to track the whole class, I have chosen five of my most distracted or talkative students with the hopes that these results will help me determine what course of action to take to increase their engagement.

Before my research began, my mentor provided notes with instruction on how to employ the T&T strategy most cogently. She suggested modeling the correct behavior of Turn & Talk before students were afforded the opportunity to try it, using role-playing as a model to help make them clear of the expectations, and this was affirmed by The Turn & Talk Evidence Based Practice (Stewart, A. A., & Swanson, E., 2019). She stated that it was best to have a procedure for the end of a T&T to gain student attention back quickly and begin questioning once more. She added that assigning partners might be beneficial and that monitoring the students closely while engaging in T&T was essential. This helped me understand how to use Turn & Talk consistently in a way that wouldn’t hinder student learning but would instead hopefully achieve engagement.

The next step of my research was having students take a survey and then recording their results in an easily read chart. The results of my survey showed that 81% of students felt comfortable answering questions on the carpet prior to sharing with a friend. The class was then divided nearly down the middle with 56% enjoying the Turn & Talk strategy and 44% disliking it. This discrepancy between percentages tells me that my shyer students don’t feel more comfortable when communicating with a partner, but rather are more reticent to share when they don’t feel confident in their answer or don’t feel like speaking. With these results we are led to my follow-up question; while half of the class enjoys the T&T tool and the other half doesn’t, does it prove effective at increasing engagement despite the lack of desire to do it?

While using our traditional engagement data sheets could be considered the obvious choice, I wanted to track my students for a longer period and adding notes to each student to indicate both their engagement and what they might’ve been distracted by. I tracked my five students (three girls and two boys) for two weeks straight, writing notes about their engagement following the Turn & Talk method every other day followed by tracking engagement from a lesson at the carpet where T&T was not used. This data, when calculated into percentages based on engagement by each student out of the group of five, made the answer to my wondering very evident. The data clearly displayed that the Turn & Talk method proved to be more distracting than beneficial. While one pairing of days suggested that the T&T strategy increased engagement by ten percent, every other pair of days suggested otherwise with the most incriminating day involving a 74% increase in engagement when the T&T method was not used. When students were given no time to talk with a partner, their engagement was typically at least 10% higher than days where they were allowed to engage in T&T. I believe that this strategy did not benefit shy students, who were unlikely to talk regardless, but distracted more communicative students by giving them a chance to talk with a friend and potentially occupy themselves in extraneous and impertinent conversations.

Implications/Recommendations

Through conducting this research and observing students’ engagement I have concluded that for lower elementary-age students, Turn & Talk is not an effective tool to increase student engagement. Conversely, my myriad sources of data proved that the opposite was true and that T&T distracted students far more than ameliorating the problem of a lack of focus. I don’t rule out the possibility that this strategy might benefit older grades where sharing an answer to the class might be more nerve-wracking, but for my 3rd graders, sharing independently is more effective at keeping them on-task and engaged.

Reference(s)

Stewart, A. A., & Swanson, E. (2019). Turn and talk: An evidence-based practice. Teacher’s guide. Austin, TX: The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. https://www.meadowscenter.org/files/resources/TurnAndTalk_TeacherGuide.pdf

Nomlomo, Vuyokazi. (2010). Classroom Interaction: Turn-Taking As a Pedagogical Strategy. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Cape Town: University of the Western Cape. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276187249_Classroom_interaction_Turn-taking as a pedagogical strategy