|Dimensions||11.5 × 10 in|
Edge Enterprises, Inc.
|Dimensions||11.5 × 10 in|
Edge Enterprises, Inc.
A student’s sense of “being known” reflects how he/she perceives he/she relates to his/her teachers. Being known reflects a sense of belonging and supports an individual’s ability to adapt to the school environment. Libbey stated:
A student’s sense of belonging and being a part of school, whether or not students like school, level of teacher supportiveness and caring, presence of good friends in school, engagement in current and future academic progress, fair and effective discipline and participation in extracurricular activities can be traced across several measures of school connection. . . . examining academic performance or involvement. . . young people who feel connected to school, that they belong, and that teachers are supportive and treat them fairly, do better. (2004, pp. 281-282)
Three studies were conducted to evaluate perceptions of teacher-student communication and the effects of the Learning Express-Ways Communication System on changes in teacher planning.
The purpose of the first study was to answer two research questions:
Sixteen general education high school teachers of inclusive classes participated. Each teacher surveyed students in one or two classes. The total sample size for this study was 594 students (529 general education students and 65 special education students). The ethnicity of the students was 53% African American, 33% Asian American, 5% Hispanic, 1% Native American, and 8% white. Fifty-six percent of these students received free/reduced lunch. Also, 14% received special education services, and 16% received ESL services. The school was located in an urban area of Seattle, Washington. State testing for 10th graders at this school showed the following results for the percentage of students passing: Math=11%, Writing=26%, and Reading=29%. These scores were the lowest in the Seattle-Puget Sound area.
The primary instruments for this study were the teacher and student versions of the Being Known Survey (Lenz & Adams, 2001). The intent of this survey was to evaluate teacher and student “connectedness” – that is, how well teachers and students knew each other. The surveys consisted of 18 matching items written from a teacher and student perspective. The example below shows the teacher and student versions of Item #11 on their respective surveys:
1=Very Unlikely 2=Unlikely 3=Neutral 4=Likely 5=Very Likely
The study was conducted during the last quarter of the school year after the teachers had had three quarters of the school year to learn about and connect with students in traditional ways.
This study compared the responses of teachers and students on their versions of the Being Known Survey. A MANOVA was used because there were multiple measures (items). An alpha level of .05 was used for all statistical tests. Significant differences between teacher and student responses were found on three items: Items #8, 11, and 18.
F(1, 437) = 8.82, p < .01), eta-squared = 0.02
F(1, 437) = 10.87, p < .001), eta-squared = 0.024
F(1, 437) = 10.87, p < .001), eta-squared = 0.024
The comparison of responses on the Being Known Survey between students with and without disabilities was also based on a MANOVA analysis. Of the 18 items, statistically significant differences were found between the student subgroups on six items: Items #9, 10, 13, 14, 15, and 16. All of these items had the following rating scale: 1 = Very Unlikely, 2 = Unlikely, 3 = Neutral, 4 = Likely, and 5 = Very Likely. In each case, the scores for the students with disabilities were higher than general education students.
Item #9. How likely is it that you would share an out-of-school problem with this teacher?
Student Ratings: Special Ed (M = 3.16) (SD = 1.06); General Ed (M = 2.62) (SD = 1.28); F(1, 420) = 6.95, p < .01, eta squared = 0.016
Item #10. How likely is it that this teacher knows your goals for the future?
Student Ratings: Special Ed (M = 3.50) (SD = 1.21); General Ed (M = 2.93) (SD = 1.27); F(1,420) = 8.04, p < .01, eta squared = 0.019
Item #13. How likely is it that you would let this teacher know if you felt alone or rejected by others?
Student Ratings: Special Ed (M = 3.34) (SD = 0.99); General Ed (M = 2.66) (SD = 1.31); F(1,420) = 10.99, p < .01, eta squared = 0.025
Item #14. How likely is it that you would let this teacher know if you were thinking about doing something harmful or illegal?
Student Ratings: Special Ed (M = 2.95) (SD = 1.26); General Ed (M = 2.34) (SD = 1.24); F(1,420) = 8.99, p < .01, eta squared = 0.021
Item #15. How likely is it that you would let this teacher know you were worried over how much trouble you were getting into during school?
Student Ratings: Special Ed (M =3.32) (SD = 0.96); General Ed (M = 2.79) (SD = 1.28); F(1, 420) = 6.89, p < .01, eta squared = 0.016
Item #16. How likely is it that you would let this teacher know if you were really angry at others and did not know what to do?
Student Ratings: Special Ed (M = 3.39) (SD = 1.06); General Ed (M = 2.81) (SD = 1.28); F(1, 420) = 8.23, p < .01, eta squared = 0.019
There were several significant differences in perceptions between the teachers and students on the Being Known Survey. In general, teachers thought that they knew students’ strengths and weaknesses much more than students believed. Also, teachers stated that students would be willing to come forth with their problems more than students expressed a willingness to do so.
A review of the items’ mean scores shows some interesting results. Both the highest- and lowest-rated items for teachers and students were the same items. The highest mean scores for teachers (4.11) and students (3.87) was Item #1 (“How satisfied are you with the way that this teacher respects how you are different from other students?”). This finding supports the belief that teachers deal with students as individuals. Teachers believe that they respect student differences, and students are satisfied with teachers respecting student diversity. The lowest mean score for teachers (2.33) and students (2.41) was Item #14 (“How likely is it that you would let this teacher know if you were thinking about doing something harmful or illegal?”). Considering the concern for safe schools, the lack of willingness to talk to teachers about possible dangerous situations is alarming.
With regard to the comparison between the responses of students with and without disabilities, statistically significant differences were found for one-third of the items (6 of 18 items). Item #10 targeted the issue of student goals: How likely is it that this teacher knows your goals for the future? The other five items are related to social behavior. The data related to these items indicate that students with disabilities are more likely to disclose information about their problems than students without disabilities if an opportunity for communication were to be made available to them. This finding would seem to underscore the importance of creating teacher-student academic relationships that support help-seeking behaviors and establish ongoing communication systems that allow students to report problems.
The purpose of this study was to examine similarities and differences between student perceptions of being known by the teacher and academic achievement as measured by students’ final course grades. The study sample included 177 students from a suburban high school in the northwest region of the United States. The Being Known Survey, developed by Lenz and Adams, 2000, was used to assess overall perceptions of being known by teachers. Items were grouped into four basic subscales to assess student perceptions of: (a) teacher interest and ability to adjust teaching, (b) feeling safe and the ability to communicate feelings, (c) self and teacher expectations, and, (d) teacher treatment and interaction. Total survey and subscale scores were compared across personal and academic variable groups.
Overall, students provided moderate ratings for items related to being known by the teacher. They also provided moderate ratings for items related to teachers demonstrating an interest in and adjusting teaching strategies to address individual learning needs. Students consistently provided low ratings for items related to the extent to which teachers solicit feedback on how to improve their teaching. The ratings for items related to feeling safe were the lowest of all. Students provided higher ratings for items related to sharing in-school problems with their teachers and lower ratings for items related to sharing thoughts about doing something harmful and illegal.
Ratings related to self and teacher expectations were higher for students earning higher final grades than for students earning lower grades. Student ratings of teacher treatment and interaction indicated students were more comfortable with the academic relationships compared to the personal relationships they had with their teachers.
Students with final course grades with A’s and B’s and those with D’s and F’s indicated higher levels of being known than the C students. Academically, students perceived their teachers kept them informed of their progress and grades.
In conclusion, Study 2 provided support for the importance of understanding the relationship between the students’ educational environment and student perceptions of being known and the role of this relationship in students’ academic success.
The purpose of the third study was to answer two research questions:
Six of the 16 teachers who participated in Study 1 were involved in the full implementation of the Learning Expressways Communication System in Study 3. Each of the six teachers had at least two equivalent classes. One of each teacher’s classes was randomly assigned to the Learning Expressways condition, and the other class did not receive the intervention. A total of 150 students with informed consent (61 males and 89 females) participated: 33 freshmen, 57 sophomores, 37 juniors, and 2 undeclared.
Teachers received a two-hour inservice workshop on the Learning Expressways Communication System, during which the system was explained and its use was modeled. Through role-playing activities, teachers tried out the system, and the trainers answered any questions. Teachers were expected to start implementation immediately and to ask for student feedback via the Teacher-Student Comments Sheets once a week.
The Being Known Survey was administered to all students at the beginning and end of the study. Project staff administered feedback surveys to the teachers about the Learning Expressways System at the mid-point and at the end of the study and to students at the end of the study. Also, project staff evaluated each student’sLearning Expressways Communication System folder for implementation fidelity and written comments of student-teacher interactions.
The Being Known Survey data comparing students who did and did not have the Learning Expressways Communication Systems were analyzed with a MANOVA analysis using SPSS, with the pretest scores on the survey serving as the covariate. This analysis was used because there were 18 dependent variables (items). An alpha level of .05 was used for all statistical tests. There was a statistically significant difference in response to Item #17 between students in the Learning Expressways experimental group and the control group. Students in the experimental group, in comparison to the control group, provided a significantly higher rating related to their teacher asking for ideas to improve his/her teaching [F(1, 148) = 7.67, p < .01].
Observers analyzed and scored each written comment made by teachers and students on the Comment Form in the Learning Expressways Communication Systemaccording to the type of response (i.e., instructional vs. noninstructional) and the affect of the response (i.e., positive, neutral, or negative). For both teachers and students, approximately one-third of their comments were about classroom instruction. The major difference was in affect. Approximately two-thirds of the teachers’ comments were positive in comparison to about one-third of the students’ comments. In contrast, the percentage of negative comments for students was approximately three times greater than for teachers.
Feedback forms completed by students and teachers at the end of the study indicated that the Learning Expressways Communication System was a viable option for teachers to use. Teachers and students (regardless of whether or not they had a disability) reported that they liked the system. All types of students rated teachers who had higher rates of implementation (daily and weekly versus bi-weekly and monthly) significantly more favorably than teachers who had lower rates of implementation. In classes using the Learning Expressways Communication System folders, students were more aware of their course grades and reported more often that teachers asked for their ideas about improving the instruction compared to students who were enrolled in courses taught by the same teacher when that teacher did not use the system.
Overall, teachers indicated that the Learning Expressways Communication System was a viable communication option; however, findings suggested that improved results could be obtained with greater frequency of using the system. Additionally, teacher comments suggested that the inclusion of a more explicit teaching routine for reviewing student information and responses and providing student feedback and the use of more varied formats for communicating with students would be helpful.
Ebey, T. (2006). The Relationship of Student Perceptions of Teacher Treatment and Student Achievement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Washington State University.
Lenz, B. K., & Adams, G. L. (2001). Being Known Survey. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.
Lenz, B.K., Adams, G. L. Graner, P., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J.B. (2008). The Use of Learning Expressways to Improve Teacher-Student Communication.Research Report. Lawrence, KS: The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.
Lenz, K., Graner, P., & Adams, G. (2003). Learning Express-Ways: Building academic relationships to improve learning. Research Report. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 35(3), 70-73
Keith Lenz, Ph.D.
My Background and Interests
My memories of elementary school are that I did what teachers asked me to do, and that if I did what the teachers asked, school was going as it was intended to go. I didn’t realize that learning was up to me and that I should at some point start assuming some responsibility for my own learning. Around 4th and 5th grade, I started to get into trouble with teachers because I wasn’t doing homework assignments. I really believed that schoolwork was done at school and that homework included all the activities I normally did at home, and they were mostly play activities. I didn’t connect independent effort and responsibility with schoolwork until my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Mason, began to make the connection very explicit. Needless to say, because my 4th- and 5th-grade learning experiences were very dismal, 6th grade required a lot of hard work to make up for my earlier failures.
In many ways, the feelings of failure that I had in 6th grade have helped me greatly during my career. I know what it feels like to be caught cheating on a math test, face the principal’s grim questions about why none of the first 75 pages of my social studies workbook have been completed, see column after column of D’s and F’s on my report card, and continuously struggle to understand what I was doing wrong in school. Looking back, those early experiences and feelings made me understand what it feels like not to understand how to learn. Not only did I struggle with learning, but I also watched many of my classmates struggle with teachers who taught on the surface without barely a thought or concern about unlocking learning for any of us.
I had to figure out how to learn on my own. I eventually became a teacher myself, teaching at the junior high school, high school, and university levels. As I learned how to teach, those memories of my schooling kept me honest about what I wanted to do in my teaching. Also, when I became a researcher, I realized that I wanted to make learning easy for students. I wanted to develop teaching methods and materials that would help them become good learners.
I will be the first to admit that I have not always been a good learner or a good teacher. However, I have always wanted to be a better learner and a better teacher. Working with my colleagues to develop learning strategy instruction, the Content Enhancement Routines, and other interventions related to strategic instruction has taken me exactly where I know I needed to go in order to help teachers teach better and to help students learn what they need to learn. I know that these are the tools that my teachers needed to use when teaching me years ago.
The Story Behind The Learning Expressways Communication System
I was walked into the office of Gary Adams one day just as he was completing writing some notes in a folder. “These are folders from graduate students in one of my courses,” Gary told me. “Each week they write what they liked and did not like about the class; I read what they have written, think about changes I need to make, and write a note back to them. Ever since I started this, my student course evaluations have improved.”
“Do you think that something like that would work to improve communication between struggling students and their teachers in secondary classrooms?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Gary replied. “You should try it and find out.”
Ever since that conversation, I have been interested in how teachers communicate with students. That led Gary and me to look at the research on communication and on what types of communication could nurture academic relationships and could destroy academic relationships. As a result, the Learning Expressways Communication System was designed to improve the frequency of communication between teachers and individual students, the type of communication that teachers can use to direct student learning, and the ways teachers might go about analyzing student comments to change their planning and teaching.
Ten years after I walked into Gary’s office and he shared with me how he was using folders to communicate with students, we completed the first study on the Learning Expressways Communication System. We found that teachers who use the system really learn about their students and change their plans and how they teach. We were happy with the results, but we are still learning a lot about how to best use the Learning Expressways Communication System in different types of classrooms and schools. A manual for using the system is currently being written. Thus, the story will continue!
My thoughts About Strategic Communications Systems
I believe that the goal of teacher-student communication should be about improving learning. What does a teacher need to know and how does a teacher learn about his or her students to improve learning? How do students learn about how a teacher is teaching that will provide insights into how to learn and what is important to learn? In some earlier research on teacher planning, my colleagues and I had learned that many secondary teachers felt they had too many students to take the “getting to know students” goal seriously. We also learned that some teachers felt that knowing too much about students could lead to crossing the line that needed to be maintained to prevent them from becoming a friend of the students.
However, our experience has indicated that teachers are effective with diverse groups of students when they really know their students. Students seem to know which of their teachers pay attention to who they are, their interests, how they are doing, and how they learn. Students seem to try harder for their teachers, and are more likely to forgive teachers who may not be the best teachers if their approach to teaching is based on genuine interest and concern.
Built within many of the interventions associated with the Strategic Instruction Model are many components designed to promote communication between teachers and students. Components such as charting progress, providing individual feedback, providing group feedback, goal setting, goal attainment scaling, and ongoing opportunities for classroom oral and written exchanges can all be elevated to play more important roles in the teaching-learning process than they have played in the past. I believe that, in this age of technology, we will begin to continue to improve how and why we will communicate to improve academic relationships to improve learning, and we will continue to see how important these communication systems are to student success.
Teacher Feedback on the Learning Expressways System
When we first started to ask teachers to regularly read student comments and write responses to students on the forms in the Learning Expressways folders, we were greeted with skepticism regarding whether this is a doable activity, given the number of students and the amount of time that they thought it would take. However, after exploration of options for flexible use depending on the needs of different classes, teachers were able to work out how to use the system in ways that met their needs.
One of the most surprising findings we learned from teacher comments about their use of the folders related to the length of their responses to students. The spaces on the feedback forms in the folders were designed to suggest an economy of teacher response in light of the number of different responses that a teacher might have to make for a class. From the beginning, we were concerned about the time requirements placed on teachers to respond to groups of students. Indeed, teachers complained about the time required to complete the written responses in the folders. To respond to these complaints, we reviewed the student-teacher exchanges to determine what we might suggest to reduce the written responses made by teachers to students. When we reviewed the exchanges, we noted that teachers were not only writing responses in the space provided but were writing in the area beyond the indicated space and, in many instances, were writing their comments on the back of the feedback forms.
We met with the teachers to point out that they were going well beyond the response expectations. We explained that they could reduce the time that it took to respond to students by reducing the length of their responses. However, almost every teacher who had exceeded our expectations for responding to students rejected our suggestion to limit their written responses. They responded with comments that were similar to the following comment:
“I don’t believe I can write a shorter response. Once I know what’s on a student’s mind, I feel that I need to respond. The alternative would be not to communicate, and now that I have started really listening to my students, I don’t think that I can go back to not listening to them. The length of my responses is what I believe is required to adequately respond with the information that they need.”
I believe that comments like these show how much teachers really care about improving their understanding of their students and how they can improve learning. The challenge is how we can help teachers achieve the goal of improving student-teacher communication given all the demands that they face in teaching diverse groups of students in secondary schools.
My Contact Information
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org