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``It depends on the teacher'': Students share their perceptions of learning for ninety minutes

Ann B Lyon, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

In quests to restructure the American high school, educators have appropriately placed the focus upon student learning. Many innovative programs are being implemented in schools, but in most instances innovations are placed in systems that are tied to a traditional schedule of time; the school day is typically divided into six or seven periods averaging in time from 45-51 minutes.^ In schools where alternative scheduling is being implemented, longer periods of time are allowed for each class session. The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to explore the perceptions of students as they experienced the transition from a traditional seven-period schedule to that of an innovative four-period schedule. The goal of the study was an increased understanding of the innovation; to give the reader the vicarious experience of "being there" in a ninety-minute class.^ The study took place during the first year of the transition to a four-period schedule in a midwestern high school. Data was collected through interviews with six high school seniors, the examination of their journal entries, and observations of their ninety-minute class sessions.^ The four major issues brought forth included time, climate, help, and focus. The researcher found that students appreciate the opportunities provided by ninety-minute class periods as long as the time is well spent; physical movement within the ninety-minute period is crucial as educators plan activities; longer class periods allow for a greater availability of help to students by teachers; and focus on learning is more easily achieved when students have only four classes per day.^ Whatever the length of the class period, it is the opportunity for relevant learning that make the difference between positive and negative school experiences. As one student said, "It depends on the teacher."^ This study holds significance for educators, school policy makers, and educational researchers. Evaluating the effectiveness of an innovation such as alternative scheduling will assist in decision-making processes, and will provide insights into the innovation so that continued refinements in scheduling practices can be made. Topics brought forward through the perceptions of students may warrant further studies of both qualitative and quantitative natures. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Ann B Lyon, "``It depends on the teacher'': Students share their perceptions of learning for ninety minutes" (January 1, 1996). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Paper AAI9628241.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI9628241

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