Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Second Advisor

Bill Green

Third Advisor

Ray Ostrander

Abstract

Problem. This study examines the instructional practices, perceptions, and attitudes of multi-grade teachers in one- and two-room schools in the Seventh-day Adventist educational system.

Method. The researcher developed a survey and mailed it to a randomly selected stratified sample of 500 teachers in one- and two-room schools in the Seventh-day Adventist educational system in the United States and Canada. Two hundred eighty surveys were returned; 276 were used in the data analysis. Descriptive statistics give a demographic picture of these teachers--the practices used, their perceived levels of expertise, methods of grouping students for instruction, and their assessment of multi-grade students' cognitive and psycho-social development in comparison to single-grade peers. Qualitative questions were asked concerning what teachers liked and disliked about teaching in the multi-grade room, what would strengthen their multi-grade teaching, and whether or not they would choose to stay in the multi-grade room if they had the opportunity to teach a single-grade class. Data from two sub-groups who were either very satisfied with multi-grade teaching or who were very dissatisfied were compared.

Results. (1) Individualized and small group instruction were strategies multi-grade teachers reported using most; learning centers, computer instruction, and portfolio assessment were used the least. (2) Less than 20% of the teachers responding to the survey considered practices specific to certain subject areas essential to their multi-grade program. (3) Few teachers reported grouping across grade levels for instruction. (4) The two most frequently stated reasons for use of a practice were "effective for multi-grade" and "it fits my teaching style." (5) Most teachers rated the psycho-social development of multi-grade students "superior" and their cognitive development "comparable" to the psycho-social and cognitive development of single-grade peers. (6) Multi-grade teachers appreciated their autonomy; they were troubled by the workload and the isolation. (7) Teachers indicated that training and curriculum materials specific to multi-grade needs would strengthen their multi-grade teaching. (8) About 50% of the teachers indicated they would prefer to teach in a single-grade classroom if it were offered, about 30% would consider the offer, and about 20% would prefer to stay in a multi-grade classroom.

Conclusions. Most multi-grade teachers would prefer to teach in a single-grade classroom. They need training in methods for organizing multi-grade curriculum and using instructional practices valuable for the multi-grade classroom. They need stronger support from pastors, parents, boards, and conference personnel.

Those teachers who are most satisfied with their multi-grade assignments indicate higher levels of use and expertise in instructional practices effective for multi-grade teaching and are more likely to group grade levels for instruction.

Subject Area

Combination of grades, Seventh-day Adventist elementary schools

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