Date of Award

2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Education

Advisor

Robert Cobb

Second Committee Member

William E. Davis

Third Committee Member

Kathleen Geher

Abstract

Less than one percent of U.S. school districts have invited student feedback in the school improvement process (Matthews, 2000). Students have valuable perceptions of how teachers interact with them and these perceptions can be a usefbl tool to improve schools (Tyack & Cuban). The purpose of this study was to examine sixth grade students' perceptions of teachers and the relationship of these perceptions to achievement, gender, socioeconomic status and grade configurations. This study utilized sixth graders' responses to sixteen items selected fiom the Students Speak: My Education and My Future Aspirations survey developed at the National Center for Student Aspirations at the University of Maine. The sixteen items all involve student perceptions of their teachers. A Chronbach's Alpha of 0.8491 established reliability of the scale. Data were collected fiom 6,346 sixth grade students in 139 Maine schools. Achievement, socioeconomic, and grade configuration data were obtained for each school, Utilizing SPSS, correlations and multiple regression were used to determine the relationship between sixth grade students' perceptions of teachers and achievement, gender, socioeconomic and school grade configuration. Key findings fiom the analysis of results are as follows: 1. Higher school MEA reading achievement scores are associated with more positive students' perceptions of teachers 2. Sixth grade male students have less positive perceptions of teachers than do sixth grade female students 3. The higher the percentages of fke and reduced lunch students in a school, the less positive the students' perceptions of teachers 4. Sixth graders who are the oldest in a school grade configuration (K-6, 1-6,3-6, or 4-6) have a more positive perception of teachers than do sixth graders in other grade configurations. The use of student perception data in our schools has two major implications. The first implication is the building of a knowledge base about the importance of student perceptions as a valuable tool in the teaching and learning process. The second implication is related to the implementation of organizational structures that support and value the development of positive relationships between teachers and students. These data have the potential for providing teachers, educational leaders and policy makers with a new resource that will assist in improving teaching and learning in our public schools.