University High School


Effects of Turn and Talks on Student Engagement

Primary Researchers

Abby Gardner, Intern, Baylor University

Katherine Wilson, M.S.Ed., Mentor Teacher, University High School, Waco ISD

Melissa Donham, M.A., Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

Turn and talks are a cooperative learning model that were created with the aims of increasing active participation and a growth of confidence in individual and group learning. They “act as an instructional tool where students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning” (Sharma & Saarsar, 2018, p. 91). In an article that sought to explore how think-pair-shares affect students’ confidence and participation in the classroom, Sampsel (2013) stated that these models allow students to be “responsible for [their own] individual learning [while also being held] accountable to their group for their efforts towards achieving group goals” (p. 4). In cooperative learning models, students can increase their learning through the knowledge of others, but they also learn how to take responsibility for their own learning. Additionally, research has shown that cooperative learning in the form of think-pair-shares is a way to increase students’ confidence in their own learning, helping in turn to increase motivation. In this action research study, the researcher aimed to explore how turn and talks affect active participation and engagement for students in an Algebra 2 classroom.

Question/Wondering

In what ways do frequent turn and talks or partner interaction before full class questioning increase the active engagement and participation of students in Algebra 2?

Methodology/Results

Participants in the study are from a low SES area. Twenty-one students participated, containing fourteen males and seven females. This class features four English language learners, six gifted and talented students, and one homeless student. Eleven of the students are identified as Hispanic and eight are identified as African American. Data was collected through think-pair-share activity sheets, observation through formal assessment, and an end of research survey given to students. Results were recorded over a six-week period. The turn and talk activity was introduced first into the classroom, with observations done during the activity. The final method of data collection was the survey given to students. Similarities in student responses during the turn and talk activity were noted as well as responses in the survey.

Based on observation alone as a formative assessment tool, the researcher saw a greater willingness from students to share their answers with the class after being able to talk with a peer. In terms of taking responsibility for learning, results indicate that responsibility for individual learning did increase since students were required to write down the responses of their peers to complete the activity. Many students expressed a positive feeling about the turn and talk assignment in that it allowed them to feel more confident in collaboration in the classroom. On the other hand, some students expressed negative feelings in the survey, wishing their class was more social. The researcher can conclude that including turn and talks in the form of think-pair-shares in an introverted but diverse classroom can lead to greater collaboration which in turn can lead to increased engagement in some cases.

Implications/Recommendations

Following this study, the researcher recommends the use of turn and talks as an active participation and engagement strategy. However, the questions posed to the students should be more open-ended with a variety of answers, so students are able to think independently and discover answers that may differ from their peers to maximize learning. In the turn and talks where multiple answers were possible, students included more explanation of what they thought the answer could be which shows that more open-ended, multiple entry point questions could influence collaboration. Future research with these types of questions could lead to a better idea of whether these collaborative activities can truly increase engagement. It would be a hope that research could show greater engagement and a desire to collaborate with one another, especially in more introverted classes, if more open-ended questions were involved. This would be an additional wondering to research as I continue in my teaching practices.

In the future, I hope to be able to include these open-ended problems in my lessons, especially when paired with think-pair-shares as a collaborative learning method because I believe it would enable introverted students to open up and engage more in their own learning. I would love to be able to continue my study of collaborative learning styles to help show students how working together is a powerful way of increasing learning and comprehension.

Reference(s)

Sampsel, A. (2013). Finding the effects of think-pair-share on student confidence and participation. 1-19

Sharma, H. L., & Saarsar, P. (2018). TPS (think-pair–share): An effective cooperative learning strategy for unleashing discussion in classroom interaction. International Journal of Research in Social Sciences, 8(5), 91-100

Zepke, N., & Leach, L. (2010). Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11(3), 167-177.

 

 


The Relationship Between Group Work and Learning Retention

Primary Researchers

Maya Garrett, Intern, Baylor University

Kari Emblem, Mentor Teacher, University High School, Waco ISD

Melissa Donham, M.A., Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

This year I have had the privilege to serve in a classroom where there were many different types of abilities in one classroom. Due to this, I had a curiosity about what ways teachers could increase learning retention for my students. According to Patricia Cartney and Alison Rouse “evidence [suggests] that a fuller debate” will “contribute positively to enhancing student learning”( Cartney & Rouse 2006). Learning retention will allow me to be able to teach all of my students skills that will aid in their learning throughout their mathematical careers. This led me to my interest in finding ways that would allow for my students to have greater learning retention. I was led to wonder in what ways will group work impact the retention of knowledge for eleventh to twelfth-grade students enrolled in Pre-Advanced Pre-Calculus?

Question/Wondering

In what ways will student group work impact the retention of knowledge for 11th-12th grade students enrolled in Pre-Advanced Pre-calculus?

Methodology/Results

This study used students from the two sections of Pre-Advanced Pre-calculus as participants. The first class (which is the fourth period of the day) had fifteen students encompassing nine girls and six boys. There were eight eleventh graders and seven twelfth graders. The students’ ages in this class ranged from sixteen years being the youngest and seventeen being the oldest. In the second class (which is the sixth period of the day) there were ten students encompassing six girls and four boys. There were seven eleventh graders and three twelfth graders. The students’ ages ranged from sixteen years being the youngest and seventeen being the oldest.

For data collection, a series of pre and post-assessments were used, as well as analyzing student work to see the thought process of the students. To start the unit, the students took a pre-assessment on Monday. Thursday of that same week I had the students take a post-test to see what they had learned. I repeated this process the following week. The students were given 10 minutes to complete their assessments.

When I analyzed the students’ work I looked for if the students completed their assignments first. If the students didn't complete their assignments or if they didn't complete the assignment on time, I included that in my analysis to answer the question of whether group work helped learning retention. Next, the students’ work was also looked at to find evidence of student thinking and the method that the students used to solve the problems. The school that I am at uses Canvas to submit student work, so I was able to access a database with all of the work during my action research.

During the first week, I had the first class do group work while the second class worked individually. During the second week of my action research, I had the second class work in groups and the first-class work individually. All of the classes were given the same work to do. For the class that was working in groups, I split the students up into groups of three or four. I encouraged the students to work with their groups but didn’t force them to. For the class that was working individually I didn’t split them up into groups and I encouraged them to work individually.

Throughout my action research, I kept an online journal to keep track of what happened during each day of my action research. In this journal, I kept track of how well the students were working in groups or independently. I also kept track of notes that I made about student work and thinking. I referred back to this journal when it was time to analyze the data to get the most accurate measurement of learning retention.

The results that I received are related to the wondering of this paper because it allows for the comparison of group work and individual work. Through the analysis of student work, and the assessments it can be seen if there is a significant difference in the scores of students who work individually compared to students that work in groups.

On week one of my action research in class one, for the pre-assessment, the class average was 4.29%. The class average of the post-assessment was 45.79%. In the second class, the class average for the pre-assessment was 4%. The class average of the post-assessment was 64.4%. During week two of my action research in class one, for the pre-assessment, the class average was 1.43%. The class average of the post-assessment was 43.86%. In the second class, the class average for the pre-assessment was 2.9%. The class average of the post-assessment was 48.5%.

Implications/Recommendations

From the results in this study, the conclusion of whether or not working in groups aids in learning retention for secondary students is inconclusive. This is because the results of this study didn’t offer any evidence to support or oppose working in groups for the purpose of learning retention. A weakness in this study was that the students were encouraged but not required to work in groups or independently, many students chose to work independently after being placed in a group or in a group when placed independently. Another weakness in the study was that it was unknown who the students were working with after class or if they were working individually. Furthermore, the study was only able to be conducted over eight days with gaps in the middle where the students were being instructed by a different person. Lastly, students choosing to not complete their work made it difficult to deduce whether the class truly didn't understand the concept or if the lack of completion caused the students to have lower scores.

The strengths of the study were that the students had the same time limit as other students to complete the pre and post-assessments. The students were also able to be with students that they already knew so it was less of a hindrance grouping them. This study also allowed for a blueprint for further research. In the future, it would be beneficial to see if not giving the students a choice to work in groups or not will affect the learning retention of the students. To negate the variable or after-school practice work, it would be interesting to have this same procedure but the students do not take any work home with them. Lastly, since this study was done on students in a Pre-Advanced Pre-Calculus class it would benefit future research and teaching if the same result was able to be determined against other grade levels and classes.

Reference(s)

Patricia Cartney & Alison Rouse (2007) The emotional impact of learning in small groups: highlighting the impact on student progression and retention, Teaching in Higher Education, 11:1, 79-91, DOI: 10.1080/13562510500400180

 

 


Impact of Reading Differentiation

Primary Researchers

Chloe Lindsay, Intern, Baylor University

Traci Minter, MS Ed, Mentor Teacher, University High School, Waco ISD

Ashleigh Maldonado, PhD Candidate, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

Reading is a core skill students will need in the English classroom and remains prevalent in the workforce as well. For my research, I focused on reading differentiation to increase the comprehension output across my class periods. The context of my problem/wondering stemmed from assessment data we analyzed in PLC. Students' reading levels negatively impacted their formative assessment and summative assessments such as tests, projects, and even vocabulary quizzes. Students must comprehend the story in order to accurately practice work that aligns with the book as well as the TEKS. When students have to re-read certain parts of a novel, the class not only loses time, but also misses the chance to engage in higher order thinking questions. These questions connect students to themselves, the world around them, and to other novels. Consequently, I decided to explore how different approaches to reading such as independent reading, group reading, and reading with an audiobook impacted students' comprehension of the text. This is because “Differentiation typically includes pro-active and deliberate adaptations of the content, process, product, learning environment or learning time, based on the assessment of students' readiness…” (Differentiated Instruction in Secondary Education, Smale et. al.) According to the article “Differentiated Instruction in Secondary Education”, differentiation is essential to maintaining a growth environment in the classroom. When it comes to students' individual needs, reading instruction has to be varied for students to maximize learning. Additionally, the goals of reading should be to challenge the student- to push them beyond the literal pages of the text and immerse them into the world as citizens. The article urges teachers to capitalize on different strategies to push for mastery in the classroom.

Question/Wondering

Reading comprehension and fluency is declining across the board for all of my classes. This was a problem I noticed early on, but did not know how to approach it. Different forms of reading impact students regardless of honors or on-level classification. How will differentiation of reading approaches impact 10th grade pre-advanced and on level students’ reading comprehension individually, in groups, and with an audiobook?

Methodology/Results

The methodology was collected in three forms: observational, student samples, and student feedback. Each artifact provided insight into specific student reading differentiation needs varying across class periods. These methods of data collection were implemented because the crux of the wondering was targeted on reading support and subsequent improvement. The sophomore participants in this study range from 15-16 years of age in 10th grade. From a class background, the data revealed racial and socioeconomic backgrounds; however, the majority of the population was either African American or Hispanic and a large number of students classify as economically disadvantaged.

The first data collection conducted was observational. A checklist with an evaluation of how accurate students were able to answer both comprehension questions about the novel and higher order thinking questions that aligned with the state standards (TEKS) was implemented daily at the end of each period’s formative assessment time of five minutes. The checklist scale was graded as follows: 1-little to no The student rarely answers the question correctly according to the novel, 2-occasionally The student sometimes answers the questions accurately from the novel, 3-frequently The student answers mostly all of the questions on point with the novel, 4-often The student answers questions providing text evidence to substantiate their answers, and 5-consistent The student regularly answers the questions with accurate evidence and reasoning why. Specifically, observational data was conducted during facilitation of questioning, one on one feedback, and differentiated reading. Next, I collected student samples from each of my class periods’ responses in their interactive journals. With these samples, I looked at the form of reading from the period (audiobook, individual, group, partner) and analyzed how the answers varied depending on comprehension from the type of reading differentiation. For the course of two weeks, pre advanced periods (1,2, and 4) read individually and in groups of two-three. On level students (periods 5-8) read audiobooks and the whole group read. Each class was expected to respond to 3 comprehension questions over the chapter. Data was collected from the questions on the third week of study: Describe the dramatic irony, what moral dilemma does Julia face, and how do most women in Holmes' life face moral dilemmas? From this data I noticed patterns of more accuracy with the audiobook and group read due to the impromptu discussions that occurred while students filled out their designated question area on their novel bookmark cut outs. Finally, I used a google form for my last piece of data to collect student feedback. The survey was given to all my periods, however; most students did not fill it out. The survey of my 237 students provided reading preference as well as insight into student learning styles. The data shows that discussion student based learning is more beneficial than teacher lecturing. Consequently, there is a positive correlation between whole group read and sophomore students. From the data, 35% of students prefer reading individually, 30% stated the audiobook helped them best understand the novel, and 35% of students prefer whole class read to help them understand the questions in their journals. This data gleaned an overall increase in comprehension of the novel when changing the form of reading through types of differentiation. Students in turn showed higher levels of interest and engagement. The results of this study amplified the previous findings through research that reading differentiation is essential to students hitting product goals of comprehension, fluency, and higher order thinking.

Implications/Recommendations

This study will impact my professional practice immensely in terms of modifying the differentiation of the lesson when reading. Many students need change in the form of reading in order to produce higher comprehension output. This study was weak in the area of variables. I think if I were to change this project in the future I would make include more specificity for the outcome such as including application questions where students analyze thematic ideas in relation to the form of reading to see if the product changes. Gearing the reading research toward argumentative essay writing would potentially have beneficial results as well. One strength of this data is it encourages different reading strategies for various groups of students despite their classification in the classroom. Additional inquiries to consider could be to focus more on one demographic of students such as ESL and LEP students.

Reference(s)

Smale-Jacobse, A. E., Meijer, A., Helms-Lorenz, M., & Maulana, R. (2019). Differentiated Instruction in Secondary Education: A Systematic Review of Research Evidence. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02366

Effectiveness of Reading-Strategy Interventions in Whole Classrooms: a Meta-Analysis. By: Okkinga, Mariska, van Steensel, Roel, van Gelderen, Amos J. S., van Schooten, Erik, Sleegers, Peter J. C., Arends, Lidia R., Educational Psychology Review, 1040726X, Dec2018, Vol. 30, Issue https://web-p-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.baylor.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=94eeebea-ca58-4a77-8435-b2e081780c74%40redis&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=133311304&db=a9h

 

 


Connections between Seating and Students

Primary Researchers

Kylie Muegge, Intern, Baylor University

Alyssa Grammer, Mentor Teacher, University High School, Waco ISD

Ashleigh Maldonado, PhD Candidate, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

Interested in the relationship between student seating and student productivity, I decided to research this connection in a freshman-level, English I classroom. The connections between the two are significant to teachers everywhere, highlighting two crucial aspects of the classroom: trends of student productivity amongst peers they’re closest to and student productivity when grouped by ability. And though I found relevant studies focused on the importance of student seating, I found none addressing the student productivity in correlation with student-choice and ability-based seating arrangements.

That said, the classroom itself is set up in pods of three to five students each facing towards the mainboard in which lessons are conducted. The English I curriculum of the time in which this study was conducted consisted of a theme-based focus on human nature, as well as writing preparation for the student’s end-of-course exams. With that, the assessments included a mix of expository essay writing assignments and creative projects over texts read. Overall, the students participated largely in independent work with opportunities of collaboration amongst pods allowed.

And ultimately, I choose to research the relationship between seating charts and student productivity because I could see differences in student habits and behavior when seating charts would change throughout the year, pushing me towards the idea that student productivity and student seating are closely aligned.

Question/Wondering

In what ways do implementing different seating arrangements, such as ability-based and student-choice, in ninth-grade classrooms impact the quality of product and productivity rates among students, both individually and in groups?

Methodology/Results

My methodology consists of collecting several forms of data, including the seating charts made, student productivity rates, student grades, and an educator reflective journal. It incorporates a mixed-method study with a larger focus on quantitative research and a hint of qualitative. The quantitative data being the deciding factor of effectiveness amongst student productivity in two separate seating arrangements measuring the percentage of productivity presented by students through each assignment. I have additionally implemented a qualitative factor as I also examine student reactions, opinions, and behavior amongst the different seating charts throughout the study. Therefore, this methodology set out to get a clear picture through both numbers and observational data of the relationships between student seating and student productivity. The participants of the study include students amongst three different Pre-AP class periods of high school freshmen, 79 students total, 35 males and 44 females. The majority of students are of Hispanic ethnicity and lower SES levels.

The data collected included productivity checks in which I would level out a percentage of how much each student got done on assignments each day based on what the educator asked of students, grades amongst both major and minor assignments, and a reflective journal kept by myself logging observations and conversations with students.

To begin my research, I first allowed students to sit wherever they would like, making note of the seating chart each class period chooses. Then at the end of each day, I would collect both productivity data and observational data. These same steps were repeated after two weeks, but instead of letting students choose where they sat, they were assigned seats based on ability using data from their previous TCA (Taught-Curriculum-Assessment). With this data, I sat students based on scores, high - low - high - low, and so on, intermixing students of higher and lower performance grades. Then, I continued to collect the same types of data of productivity rates and an observational journal for two more weeks. In looking at the data I collected, I compared the productivity rates and grades amongst the two weeks using graphs I formed for each class and each type of seating chart. Looking at productivity rates in each class period analyzing the two different seating arrangements, it appears that students had a higher level of productivity amongst the ability-based seating chart in all periods. However, the exception to this was third period in which a high volume of absences seems to make the data lean towards student choice, skewing the results. The results are similar when looking at student grade averages over the course of the two types of seating arrangements, however, absences again skew the data of third period.

Both seating charts, student-choice, and ability-based had a wide range of observation data that spread from student and teacher dislike and like. Students seemed to enjoy the student-choice seating, while they also complained greatly about the ability-based chart. I, as their teacher, liked student-choice better, even with classroom management issues (because they were present in both charts) because the students would actively collaborate more and seemed more comfortable in the classroom. The overarching results support the idea that student seating is a factor of student productivity, leaning towards the idea that ability-based seating is a more effective route to take. However, I do believe multiple factors play into student productivity, this being only one, therefore despite the conclusive results, I believe teachers should always do what appears to be best for their students in their own classrooms.

Implications/Recommendations

All in all, this research study will greatly impact my instructional practices because I think it’s important as an educator to create the best possible learning environment for all students. Though I did not get to do so in this study due to time limitations, I would also love to continue exploring different types of seating arrangements, including randomized, and behavioral based. That said, some strengths of this study include the wide range of data collected, the number of students, and the two types of seating arrangements. While, the weaknesses include time limitations, frequent disruptions due to testing, weather, student tragedy, and a lack of student data due to absences. Some of these weaknesses or issues are inevitable in a school setting as every day brings something new, but when conducting similar research in the future I would love to extend the research period greatly.

To further emphasize, I stand by the idea that teachers should implement a seating arrangement that best suits their classroom environment. That is because though the results lean towards ability-based seating being more effective, the student-choice seating proved to be more collaborative and enjoyable all around for both teachers and students.

 

 


Instructional Choice’s Influence in Increasing Reading Comprehension

Primary Researchers

Elianna Sanders, Intern, Baylor University

Natasha Garcia, MS Ed, Mentor Teacher, University High School, Waco ISD

Ashleigh Maldonado, PhD Candidate, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

Many students roll their eyes at the thought of having to read inside and outside of the classroom. Sadly, this attitude is also reflected in students’ comprehension and analytical responses. This has been the case in my own classroom. Student motivation is at an all-time low as students prepare for the STAAR test by reading unengaging info-texts that provide nothing but a headache for the students that read them. Although these informational texts are necessary and students should have the capability and stamina to get through them, our schools are not giving students the skills to make it through these short texts that students are evaluated on. According to a study, student choice plays a huge role in student motivation when it comes to reading. The study explicitly says that “Teachers who give students choices, challenging tasks, and collaborative learning structures increase their motivation to read and comprehend text” (Chair, 41). This statement supports that when students are interested in the text they choose, their comprehension improves as well. Diversifying the text also helps peak student interests and not only makes them more well-rounded learners but also benefits their higher-level thinking skills (Chair, 40). It is vital for teachers to incorporate texts that are relevant to the subject at hand. This gives students the background needed to tackle these texts and make connections outside of what they are reading. The second study goes into greater depth on the importance of student choice in reading comprehension and gives many different strategies for teachers to use in the classroom to help implement instructional choices in the classroom (Lane, 163). By using these strategies, not only can teachers improve their students’ opinions on reading, but also improve students' tests scores in the classroom. These studies explain the importance of allowing students to have instructional choice when it comes to independent reading. By allowing students to choose, we create an environment where reading is personalized to the student, and they can fully explore and learn about each text.

Question/Wondering

Does allowing 11th grade English students' to choose their reading text influence their reading comprehension?

Methodology/Results

My study was conducted using data from a retesting English III class. My students are juniors that have failed their English I and English II STAAR state assessment in prior years of school. This specific English III course is to focus on STAAR testing strategies while also receiving an English III credit. The goal for this study was to find a solution to poor comprehension skills that I was seeing in my classroom. My question was whether regular reading instructions, where students had the opportunity to choose what text they read, would help improve students’ reading comprehension. To assess this question, I used several different forms of data. The first was a pre-test and a post-test to assess my students’ baseline for the study. The post-test helped evaluate if there was any improvement from the student’s original testing scores to regular reading instruction being implemented in the classroom. The tests consisted of a short story that students read independently and answered a series of reflection questions to demonstrate their understanding of the text. The second source of data was through the reading program, Reading Plus. Students were able to choose whatever story that they found interesting to complete their assignment. This program recorded their literacy levels as they excelled through reading the stories and answering comprehension questions. As well as using these forms of assessment, I also recorded whether students were on task when they were working. If they were on their phone, talking to their neighbor, or any other types of distraction, I made a note to help try to explain why certain grades might be outliers in the study. My pre-test results showed that students had a limited understanding of the text when reading it independently. For each class, I averaged the test scores together to see how each class period improved over the course of the research project. I repeated this again for the post-test for each period. Each period, except for 2nd period, improved after implementing regular session of Reading Plus in classroom instruction. 1st period improved by 18%, 3rd period improved by 26%, 4th period improved by 31%, 6th period improved by 7%, and 8th period improved by 31%. The only period to not show improvement was 2nd period which dropped by 11%. Although these test score do prove my wondering and show a drastic increase in student comprehension and high-level thinking skills during independent reading, I still feel that this study is inclusive due to the variations and errors found in the implication/recommendations section of this paper.

Implications/Recommendations

For four weeks, students did 20 minutes of Reading Plus twice a week. Although this was beneficial to our study and the students overall, it was difficult to honor that time due to the busyness that comes with the spring semester as students prepare for STAAR tests. Since these students are English III students that have failed either or both English I and English II STAAR in previous year, this puts added pressure on the teachers in the classroom. I also felt that the results of the study were skewed by chronic student absences. In each class, I had students who did not participates or had to make up the pre-test and post-test due to missing school. Some students only completed one Reading Plus lesson, while other completed all 6 Reading Plus lessons. This was most evidently seen in 2nd period’s final post-test average since I only had a total of three students take the pre-test and five take the post-test. Due to student absences throughout the testing period, I cannot fully stand by the results of the test. Another weakness would be mostly the time frame. A study that studies the effects of regular reading instruction led by student choice or interest needs to take place over semester if not an entire year. This study was only four weeks long which makes the data not as accurate as it could be if the study was extended.

Reference(s)

RAND Reading Study Group, & Snow, C. (2002). A RESEARCH AGENDA FOR IMPROVING READING COMPREHENSION. In Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension (pp. 29–60). RAND Corporation. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1465oeri.12


Lane, K. L., Menzies, H. M., Ennis, R. P., Oakes, W. P., Royer, D. J., & Lane, K. S. (2018). Instructional Choice: An Effective, Efficient, Low-Intensity Strategy to Support Student Success. Beyond Behavior, 27(3), 160–167. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26974074

 

 


The Gum Ex-spearmints

Primary Researchers

Mollie Spearman, Intern, Baylor University

Ronald Fox, MA, Mentor Teacher, University High School, Waco ISD

Neil Shanks, PhD, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University

 

Rationale/Introduction

After observing in the classroom for a semester, I have noticed that many students have a very difficult time focusing on assignments longer than just a few minutes. Students seem to find social studies as not an interesting topic, so they lean towards their phones often. I wanted to find a way to not only encourage longer attention times but show academic progress if students focused on assignments for longer periods of time.

Question/Wondering

Will students find that chewing gum in class will allow them to focus longer than without it?

Methodology/Results

This study was conducted in six on-level 11th Grade US History classes at University High School. Four times throughout a two-week period, students were offered gum to chew in class while they worked on independent assignments. I surveyed two students on the last day of the gum trial to see if they believed that the gum helped them, did not help them but distract them or if they saw no difference. I picked the students at random throughout the class and asked them “Do you believe that chewing gum in class today helped you focus more on your assignment, was a distraction to your classwork or did you see no difference? Why would you say it (helped, distracted you or you saw no difference? Then, will you please write your answer on this sticky note”?

I looked at all the responses at the end of the day and saw that the two “no’s” were first and sixth period. I thought I would see a pattern in the time where someone said no, but determined it was more about the person rather than the time of day that this was happening at. After reviewing the data about their gum, it showed that almost everyone saw it as a benefit in class. Only 16% of my students who I surveyed did not see it as beneficial which was shocking for me. As I observed the classes, I saw more students on task and completing their work quietly. Some students saw the gum as a reward or incentive in class while others said it helped them concentrate more in class. Overall, the gum seemed to have a positive impact on the completion of the tasks.

Implications/Recommendations

The results of my study had a much stronger yes than I was originally anticipating. I believe that students saw the gum as a positive reinforcement which allowed for them to fully concentrate on their assignment and get it finished. I think the gum lessened their amount of talking which allowed them to stay on task for longer periods of time. As an educator I always want to keep the students on task and having to constantly remind them to stop talking and get back to work becomes a repetitive task.

Reference(s)

Drive, Inner. “Does Chewing Gum Really Improve Concentration and Learning?” Release Your Inner Drive, InnerDrive Ltd, 25 Feb. 2022, https://blog.innerdrive.co.uk/chewing-gum-concentration-and-learning.