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ERIC Number: EJ724877
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Reference Count: 21
Improving School Learning: The Student Perspective
Gentilucci, James L.
Educational Forum, The, v68 n2 p133-143 Win 2004
Poor student learning appears to be a distinct and pernicious problem in the United States. The continuing debate among educational policy makers and practitioners about how best to improve learning has yielded a multitude of federal, state, and local reform efforts. Yet, as promising as some of these efforts are, there is still a growing sense among many educational stakeholders that they have only marginally enhanced learning in America's classrooms (Steinberg, Brown, and Dornbusch 1996). This paper describes a study of elementary students' perspectives on learning. The study focused on three questions: (1) Is learning important for elementary students? (2) If so, what collective thoughts and feelings do they develop about their learning? and (3) What collective reactions do they develop in response to these learning-related thoughts and feelings? The driving premise of the study was that students themselves, rather than scholars, administrators, teachers, or parents could best relate what was wrong with their learning experience and how best to fix it. The findings argue that effective reform and improvement efforts must take into consideration students' perspectives on schooling and learning. Second, the findings argue against the notion that elementary students learn poorly simply because learning does not matter to them. Finally, the findings call into question research that places blame for poor learning on factors outside of school. While issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and poverty undoubtedly influence students' ability to learn well, the root causes of poor learning appear to lie within the classroom. Indeed, the results of this study indicate that only a few, alterable, within-classroom variables related to curriculum, instruction, teacher behavior, and cooperative learning hold the key to substantially improving learning in the elementary school.
Descriptors: Educational Policy, Educational Change, Educational Improvement, Elementary School Students, Student Attitudes, Learning Experience, Classroom Environment, Cooperative Learning, Curriculum, Teaching Methods, Teacher Behavior
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States