K-12 Dissertations

Powers, Ruth Silverberg

From marginalization to relational space: A descriptive phenomenological study of teachers who changed their assumptions and beliefs about problematic students
by Silverberg, Ruth Powers Ed.D., Hofstra University, 2002, 177 pages; AAT 3041344


Little attention has been paid to the issue of educational equity at the micro level–the teacher-student interaction. Every year, children experience marginalization by their teachers, simply because this year’s teachers have defined them as problems and withdrawn the attention necessary for success.

The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of teachers who reported a change in their thinking about a student initially perceived as problematic. The change took place when the teachers experienced the Let Me Learn Process®, an advanced learning system that provides an inward look at a learner’s internalized learning behaviors, an outward analysis of a learner’s actions, and a vocabulary for communicating these specific learning processes. Nine elementary teachers of varying ages, grades, and locations provided descriptions of their experiences regarding changes in thinking about problematic students in open, in-depth interviews. The data were analyzed using a conceptual model based on components of teacher thinking found in the literature with attention to emergent themes.

The central emergent finding was the importance of teachers “understanding” of their students and themselves as learners. Teachers’ development of successful teaching-learning relationships occurred after they re-conceptualized themselves and their students as equal, active participants in the teaching-learning relationship. This change was an outcome of working with their students to understand themselves and each other using a shared conceptual framework for learning.

Tymann, Robert

At risk students and state exams: An RX for student success
by Tymann, Robert Ed.D., Hofstra University, 2003, 75 pages; AAT 3107163


This study focused on evaluating the success of an intervention at a suburban high school in New York State for students “at-risk” of achieving the Regents Diploma requirements in Mathematics. It compared the achievement of 25 “at-risk” students who participated in the intervention with the achievement of 136 students not exposed to the intervention. All participants began 9th grade in 1998 and were exposed exclusively to one group for a two-year period. The first question takes an administrative perspective focused on the program as a combination of structural components that frame instruction: “looping”, “parallel classes”, extended class time, small class size, and student centered instructional strategies. The Metropolitan Achievement Test 6 was used as a covariate. Scores on the Sequential Mathematics 2 Regents Examination provided output variables. The major finding was no statistically significant achievement differences between at-risk students who participated in the intervention and students in traditional classes, F (2,158) = 6.66, P = .191, when adjusted for pre-treatment achievement. This was not the expected outcome, which would have predicted that the Regents students would achieve higher than the RX students. Three additional questions focused on the relationships between learning patterns, program participation and achievement. The Learning Combination Inventory: Form II provides data on student learning patterns. Students exposed to the intervention, who are more likely to use a precise learning pattern, are more likely to score lower on the Sequential 2 Mathematics Regents Exam. The Pearson Correlation Coefficient of -.420 is moderately meaningful, indicating that a precise learning pattern accounts for 17.6% of the variance in Sequential 2 Mathematics scores, the higher the precision the lower the achievement. Students exposed to the intervention who are more likely to use a Confluent learning pattern are more likely to score higher on the Sequential 2 Mathematics Regents than other students. For these students the Pearson Correlation Coefficient of .44 is moderately meaningful, with student learning pattern accounting for 19.4% of the variance in Sequential 2 mathematics scores. Specifically, the higher the confluent score of students in the RX program, the more likely they scored higher on the Sequential 2 Mathematics Regents Exam.

McSweeney, R. Terri

Merging cognitive and instructional theories: Implementation of an advanced learning system in secondary mathematics
by McSweeney, R. Terri Ed.D., Hofstra University, 2005, 220 pages; AAT 3203477


This mixed methods, action research study in the context of secondary mathematics investigated the relationships among teacher beliefs, student achievement and mathematical affective response and development of teacher and student metacognition through the implementation of an advanced learning process known as the Let Me Learn process®. The Let Me Learn process is grounded in social cognitive theory; it provides a conceptual framework and taxonomy to establish shared meanings through which both students and teachers develop metacognitive skills focused on learning.

Literature was reviewed to situate Let Me Learn within social cognitive theory, to contrast it with stimulus-response educational models and to merge cognitive and instructional theories. The Let Me Learn intervention aimed to develop meta-level processes and empower learners with sophisticated learning strategies.

Teachers, as learners, engaged in reflective experiences that promote meta-cognition and meta-awareness related to teachers’ own individual learning patterns. Learning pattern combinations are the interaction of four learning patterns described as: sequential, precise, technical and confluent. The Learning Combination Inventory was the instrument used to capture the learning pattern combinations of teachers and students.

Teachers’ understanding of their own and their students learning patterns, pedagogical beliefs, reflective practice, and response to challenged assumptions, influenced degree of implementation. Five algebra teachers and 123 students from a Northeastern United States suburban district participated. Observations and interviews captured observable degree of implementation and teachers’ emerging beliefs.

It was concluded a single year was insufficient time for teachers to implement the innovation completely. However, through reflection and growing knowledge of their own learning processes, teachers improved their understanding of themselves and their students as learners. Teachers’ self-confrontation with previously formed beliefs about teaching and learning was pivotal in re-conceptualizing their classroom role, a state reached by 80% of them.

Findings demonstrated preexisting differences in student mathematical affect response to learning mathematics that related to differences in their learning patterns. Differences in student achievement on teacher-designed assessments were attributable to differences in teachers’ and students’ learning patterns.

Recommendations call for a three-year innovation cycle, future research, and practical applications for administrative functions such as hiring, supervision, evaluation and professional development.

Dunham, Gregory Haviland

The emancipation of the learner
by Dunham, Gregory Haviland Ed.D., Rowan University, 2006, 163 pages; AAT 3200731


This dissertation examines the existence of a powerless, marginalized, group of students and the instruction provided this population. An intervention strategy with the intention to create an environment that allowed the students in the study to emancipate themselves as learners was developed.  The dissertation also follows the school’s principal through this process as he defines his leadership. The data from this study revealed participants performed better as a result of the intervention.

Ihunnah, Deborah

Promoting the integration of vocational and academic skills using the principles of the let me learn model: a case study of transformational leadership

by Ihunnah, Deborah Ed.D., Rowan University, 2003, (Abstract available February 2010)

Cook, Spike

Making connections: Implementing an integrated thematic instruction curriculum model to assist teachers of at-risk middle school students
by Cook, Spike C. Ed.D., Rowan University, 2009, 237 pages; AAT 3359922

Abstract (Summary)

In the era of the No Child Left Behind Legislation (NCLB) schools are responsible for the achievement of all students including those who are labeled at-risk. In order to reach the at-risk students at Henry Catherine Middle School I led a year long implementation process using integrated thematic instruction to connect learning throughout the school curriculum, thus providing a deeper understanding of disciplinary content (Anderson & Pellicer, 1998; Beane, 1993; Campbell & Harris, 2001; Wood & Jones, 1994). The conceptual framework of this four cycle action research dissertation centered on the teachers’ use and perception of integrated thematic instruction. Throughout the cycles I used mixed methods of qualitative and quantitative measures in order to understand the change process. The action research paradigm allowed me to build, expand, and reflect throughout the various cycles. The discoveries I made through this research revealed how teachers used integrated thematic instruction in their classroom learning environment. Teachers felt that the integrated theme required extensive planning time, similarly grouped students, and collaboration. Further, the teachers felt that in order for integrated thematic instruction to flourish at Henry Catherine Middle School the structure of the school day would need to change. As the leader of this project, I explored how my espoused theories on leadership compared with my theories-in-use. In order to accomplish this I used reflective journaling, interviews, and feedback from the Leadership Practices Inventory. I found that my espoused theories were similar to my theories-in-use. These discoveries about integrated thematic instruction can inform other school districts seeking innovative curriculum approaches for teachers responsible for at-risk students. A similar model could be implemented as a year long professional development project. It is assumed that by providing professional development for teachers will, in all likelihood, benefit at-risk students in their classroom.

Dawkins, Bonnie

Honoring the learner: One teacher’s experience implementing the Let Me Learn Process
by Dawkins, Bonnie U. Ed.D., Hofstra University, 2008, 569 pages; AAT 3323273


This year long auto-ethnographic study documented the process by which a successful veteran 6th grade language arts teacher initiated radical change in her teaching practice by implementing and utilizing the Let Me Learn Process® (LML), an advanced learning system, in her suburban elementary school classroom. The theoretical basis of LML is the simultaneous interactions of cognition, conation, and affectation within our mental processing as four simultaneously occurring patterns that represent how the learner sees the world, takes in stimuli, integrates information and responds to it.

In dual roles as researcher and teacher implementer, the researcher revealed the professional tensions that accompanied her emergent understanding of how her own learning patterns informed her mental models and shaped her behaviors; how her own learning affected the climate within the classroom environment; and how the greater school culture influenced the way others interacted differently with her students, many of whom were formally identified as problematic and suffered from reputational bias. Through this narrative inquiry the researcher reflected on her past practice and the major changes which occurred as she and her students immersed themselves in the language of LML, in growing self-awareness of themselves as learners, and in how the LML Process® affected their meta-awareness and intentionality within this co-constructed learning environment.

Data included 1,000 pages of daily classroom field notes documenting classroom interactions, constructivist based literature lessons taught, student and teacher interactions, student work products, and student interviews. Analysis included use of themes from conceptual models found in the research literature and those developed by the researcher during coding.

The central findings were that the LML Process®, considered a form of reflective practice, revealed the researcher’s enhanced ability to understand how to recognize learning differences among individuals, differentiate instruction more effectively, enable students to strategize for high stakes tests through task analysis, advocate for “at risk” students, deconstruct and reframe formerly problematic behaviors, enhance greater individual meta-cognitive awareness, and facilitate greater capacity for dynamic, positive cooperative group learning, effective group interaction within the classroom learning community, thus helping the learners to navigate the “system of schooling” more efficaciously, honoring the demands for authentic learning while transcending the normative “transmission” model of teaching and learning.

Ward, Nancy

The influence of a metacognitive learning system on the writing achievement of elementary school students

By Nancy Barbara Ward, Ed.D., Seton Hall University,2009,139 pages;(Available Spring, 2010)


The researcher investigated the influence of a metacognitive learning system, the Let Me Learn Process® (LML) on the writing achievement of third grade students.

The researcher conducted a program evaluation to establish fidelity of implementation.  Utilizing a mixed methods, non-experimental, cross-sectional, explanatory design, the researcher compared data from one group of students who were instructed with LML with the data of a group who were not instructed with LML in the 2007-08 school year. The results of the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK) and the local timed writing assessment were analyzed. The researcher also conducted visual analysis of the 2008-09 school year NJASK results.

The researcher identified in the literature that writing achievement is a concern for males and students with low socio-economic status. Both subgroups of students, those categorized as low socio-economic status, and male students, who were instructed with LML showed scores that were statistically significantly better than those who were not.

Findings demonstrated that implementation of LML® was conducted with fidelity in the research setting and that it influenced the writing achievement of the group of third grade students who were instructed with the process. Based on the results from the two data sources, the researcher determined that there was statistically significant influence on writing achievement for students who were instructed with LML compared to those who were not in the 2007-2008 school year. In addition, the students categorized as low socio-economic and males and were instructed with LML also showed scores that were statistically significantly better than those who were not. The researcher concluded, based on visual analysis, that results of a statistical analysis of the 2009 data would have shown significance to a higher degree than the results demonstrated in 2008.

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