South Bosque Elementary
Improving Engagement Among Students with ADHD
Katie Grisius, Intern, Baylor University
Melissa Ellis, B.A., Mentor Teacher, South Bosque, Midway ISD
Lisa Plemons, M Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
While working with a small group of third grade students on English Language Arts and Reading, I observed lots of off-task behavior. Two of the boys that I have been working with have ADHD, and this has affected their learning. When these students get distracted and disengage with the material this results in lower scores on formal and informal assessments. I want to see growth in these students and I believe coming up with a system to address their off-task behavior will drastically improve their ability to learn and their test scores.
I wonder what would happen if I applied a reward system to increase two 3rd grade students’ on-task behavior in a small group setting.
I have been observing and working with two third grade boys who have been diagnosed with ADHD. One of the students is Caucasian and the other is Latin-American.These two boys work with two other students in a small group working on reading and oral language skills. These two students are not on medication and this likely won’t change. We meet for 30 minutes each day at 1:45 to 2:15. While working with this group of students I noticed how difficult it was for them to stay focused on the task at hand. I knew that many of the students we work with struggle with this as well, but these students specifically struggle more. I thought a reward system would help them stay motivated during our session and to work on staying focused. This incentivizes the students to keep working and do as I ask.
Both students have a printed out chart each week with 6 stars. This is how I collected data to show their progress each week. When the student is showing on task behavior I ask them to color in a star. I often write specific expectations for what I want to see during that day or week. This can be raising their hand when I ask a question, working quietly when handed independent work and staying focused on the topic at hand. This reminds the students of the expectations each day and what their goal is. Each day they strive towards 6 stars. When students achieve these six stars they get two pieces of candy.
Research was conducted on elementary students’ motivation, engagement, and learning. Rewarding students did impact students' understanding and engagement. According to Filsecker (2014), “On the other hand, students in the reward condition showed significantly larger gains in conceptual understanding (proximal) and non-significantly larger gains in achievement (distal).” Being able to stay on task will help them fully understand the concept and not only be able to complete their independent work but getting it correct. This leads to better test scores and progress in their learning by staying engaged.
Based on the data, the students have shown significant improvement in their time in small group and on their assessments. Each week students earned more stars which resulted in more opportunities for growth. Students have shown this growth by informal assessments such as completing assignments in a timely manner and correctly. They became confident in their ability to get all six stars by the end of our session. As weeks went on, it started to become a routine in their schedule. They are excited and look forward to filling out that chart every day while maintaining a positive attitude.
Many students with ADHD have problems with executive function. Executive function skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. It depends on three main brain functions. This includes working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These are very important skills to be successful in order to learn and grow in a classroom setting.Everyone with ADHD has trouble with executive function. Knowing this, my two students are benefiting from establishing a routine of this reward system every day. These two students are gaining the skills they need to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set, and achieve goals, and control impulses all based on the reward system.(Executive Function & Self-regulation 2022)
I will continue to use reward systems in the future because of how successful it is with students who have ADHD. I learned that it can also be beneficial for students who simply are not motivated enough to do the tasks that are given. They start to get excited about the concept and stay engaged throughout our entire time together.
Filsecker, M., & Hickey, D. T. (2014). A multilevel analysis of the effects of external rewards on elementary students' motivation, engagement and learning in an educational game. Computers & Education, 75,136–148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.02.008
Executive Function & Self-regulation. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2020, March 24). Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function/
Strategies to Reduce Wasted Accommodation Time
Julie Krebs, Intern, Baylor University
April McAdams, MS Ed, Mentor Teacher, South Bosque, Midway ISD
Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, EdD, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
In a third-grade classroom, I observed a female student consistently struggling to complete assignments on time with a 504 accommodation. According to Lay and Schouwenburg, (1993), “Trait procrastinators, who have a response to a fear of failure or perfectionist tendencies, exhibit a greater likelihood of being behind schedule” (p. 647). Research was conducted on one girl in a classroom consisting of ten girls and eleven boys with multiple ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Baseline data was collected through timing assignments and anecdotal records.
How do strategies designed to eliminate wasted time impact the amount of time it takes for a female third grade student to finish an assignment?
The student I conducted research on spent a significant amount of time finishing and completing assignments and ending up with a high grade. Through observations, I found that the student played with tools on her iPad when using screenshot mark-up and other technological tools. The student also consistently wrote and rewrote the same thing to have it be perfect. Over the course of a four weeks, I implemented two strategies to test the implications that they would have on the student’s task completion. The first strategy I used was incorporated unconventional seating, such as working underneath the desk or around the room. The second strategy incorporated the use of a game. The student was tasked with trying to complete their assignment by a certain time, without giving a true limit, for example, having the student complete their work by lunch, rather than saying having them complete it in twenty minutes. To collect data on the implications of these strategies, I timed how long it took for the student to complete her assignments as well as anecdotal records of what she did while completing her assignments. Both strategies did not prove to be useful for the student’s completion of her assignments; the student remained distracted and fidgeted with the tools on her iPad taking the same length of time if not more on her assignments. During the STAAR Simulation test, I found that this student completed the test in five hours, while monitoring the student at one point during the test, I found she took about ten minutes per question and would use a line reader to read the article, zoomed in, line by line. One strategy that my teacher and I randomly used one day to my surprise worked better than the others. When my student was assigned to work with a partner, the student completed their work in a faster manner and did not waste or spend time playing with other tools on the screen. After collecting the data, I found that not very many strategies worked to accelerate the student’s completion of assignments.
Although not every assignment can be done with a partner, utilizing a partner in various ways and multiple times, the student would be able to learn to speed up their work and eliminate wasted time on tools that cause distractions. For the future, consistently working with the student by reminding her to finish their work in a timely manner would be the most beneficial for both the student and the teacher.
Lay, C. H., & Schouwenburg, H. C. (1993).Trait procrastination, time management, and academic behavior.Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 8(4), 647-662.
Individual Work Completion
Lauren Pattarozzi, Intern, Baylor University
Jessica Hogg, MS Ed, Mentor Teacher, South Bosque Elementary, Midway ISD
Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, EdD, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
In a first grade classroom, it was observed that a few students struggle to maintain their focus and complete independent assignments during the time allotted for mathematics instruction. This affected the time that the class could spend in writing instruction because the students required additional time to complete their mathematics assignments. According to Vawter (2019), “One of the greatest ways that human beings feel empowered is when they have ownership over their own lives” (p. 1). Research was conducted in a classroom of nineteen students with multiple learning accommodations, and varying ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Baseline data was collected through anecdotal notes, engagement forms, and student work completion records.
In what ways will tracking student assignment completion and rewarding daily work completion affect the engagement, motivation, and independent work habits of four first grade students during mathematics instruction?
The four first grade students included in the study consisted of three females and one male, varying in ethnicity and socioeconomic status. To gain insights into my wondering, I created a page of dot charts for the four students to track their own independent math work completion. The students filled in their dot charts as they completed assignments each day and they were awarded with a sticker if they completed all of their assignments. At the end of each week, if any student completed all of their assignments for the entire week, they were able to choose an additional toy from the class store. To analyze the effect that this practice had on the students’ engagement, motivation, and independent work habits, I personally tracked the students’ work completion, took engagement forms, and took anecdotal notes of the students’ behaviors. The students’ work completion was tracked before implementation, as well as daily throughout the three weeks of implementation. An engagement form, which noted the students’ on or off-task behavior every five minutes, was taken on each of the students before implementation, and during the last week of implementation. I took anecdotal notes of the students’ behaviors and apparent motivation levels before implementation and every day during the three weeks of implementation.
I analyzed the data that I collected from tracking the work completion and engagement of the students’ by taking daily averages of the work that was completed and the time that the students spent engaged. I then compiled the daily averages from each week into a weekly average. Next, I combined the weekly averages to find the overall average percentage of assignments that each student completed and average amount of time that each student spent engaged. This was done before and after implementation. I analyzed the data that I collected from taking anecdotal notes of the students’ behaviors and apparent motivation levels by noting any distinct changes in each students’ independent work time behaviors and motivation for getting their work done.
The effects of this research were different on each student, which was to be expected as each child is unique. The effects of this research were different on each student, which was to be expected as each child is unique. According to my data analysis, tracking student assignment work completion and rewarding daily work completion positively affected the engagement of three out of four students during independent math work time. Student A’s percent of time engaged increased by 27.75%. Student B’s engagement increased by 11.1%. Student C’s engagement increased by 5.55%. Tracking student assignment work completion and rewarding daily work completion changed the level of motivation of two out of the four students. Student A’s motivation to complete work increased dramatically and there was a visible effort being put into trying to stay focused on the work. Student C’s motivation to complete work increased immensely as the student worked diligently each day to finish every assignment and earn a sticker. Tracking student assignment work completion and rewarding daily work completion increased the percent of assignments completed by two out of the four students during independent math work time. Student A experienced a 12.2% increase in their work completion. Student C experienced a 6.7% increase in their work completion.
Though there are many theories about motivation in the classroom, I chose to focus on the effect that having ownership over their own learning and providing extrinsic motivations would have on four students’ engagement, motivation and individual work completion habits. Previous research suggests that there are many strategies for increasing student engagement and motivation to work because one strategy is not guaranteed to be beneficial for all students. This understanding was proven true through my study, as the system that I implemented did not have the same effect on each student.
This study could have been improved by changing the selection of students to those that are more similar in terms of their level of success with math skills. Because I chose the students based on who was not completing all of their work, factors such as gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, attention span, and math skill comprehension were varied amongst the students. All of these factors have an effect on how students learn and work, which may be part of the reason that the results of the study were different for each student. In the future, I would choose students that are more closely related in their mathematical abilities to minimize the potential factor of the level work completion being affected by how well the students understand the material. This study was strong in the methodology of the data collection. By tracking each of the students’ percentage of work completion, percent of time engaged in the activities, and behaviors and motivation to complete work, I was able to analyze the complete effect that this process had on the students individually. This method of data collection allowed me to notice changes in each student, which gave me the ability to draw clear conclusions of how the study did or did not affect them.
This study will affect my future instructional practices by expanding the strategies that I use to increase engagement, work completion, and motivation in my students. Because this one strategy did not work for all four of the students, I will be diligent in my use of multiple strategies to discover what engages and motivates each of my students individually. I intend to continue my search to determine what strategies will lead to a change in the behaviors of Student B and Student D, as well as all of the other students in my classroom.
Rowell, L. L., & Hong, E. (2013, January). Academic motivation: Concepts, strategies ... - researchgate. ResearchGate. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277363978_Academic_Motivation_Concepts_Strategies_and_Counseling_Approaches
Vawter, David (2019) "Keynote. Motivation: Theory into Practice,"Current Issues in Middle Level Education: Vol. 24 : Iss. 1 , Article 2.
The Effect of Project Based Learning on Student Self Efficacy in Math
Sierra Walker, Intern, Baylor University
Kristi Nye, B.S., Mentor Teacher, South Bosque Elementary School, Midway ISD
Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, EdD, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
Through watching and interacting with students during the extended learning portion of the school day, I noticed many students were not being appropriately challenged. Some were ready for content well beyond the scope of the activities while others were not ready for independent practice with the material. Students have greater confidence in their abilities when they take responsibility for their learning, and according to Lee and Galindo (2021), “Having learners make choices leads to them taking responsibility” (p. 4). Research was conducted with twelve girls and eight boys of Caucasian and mixed ethnicity from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. Baseline data included a self-efficacy survey.
How does project based learning affect the self-efficacy of 20 third grade students in mathematics?
Students filled out a self-efficacy survey along with what topics they felt they needed more practice with. After averaging the self-efficacy scores of the students who requested individual projects and comparing it to the average of the students who requested partner projects, I discovered that students who requested individual projects rated themselves .68 points higher on a 5-point scale. Then, I created personalized projects for 10 individual students and 5 sets of partners based on partner preference, interests, and skills. Students worked on the projects for 3 weeks. Once students finished, I conducted post-conferences with each student where they explained which task was the easiest for them, the hardest for them, and the one they were the proudest of. Students generally fell into two groups: those who were the proudest of the easiest task because it showed them that they had mastered the concepts and those who were the proudest of the hardest task because they persevered to learn the concepts. Students reported being more confident in the skills that appeared on the tasks they were the proudest of. While observing students as they worked on their projects, I noted that they were more engaged and enthusiastic compared to when they work on their typical activities.
Based on this research, I will include at least one project-based learning opportunity each year. When I reuse the materials from the projects, I will edit the directions to make them clearer since I had many students asking clarifying questions. The self-efficacy survey in this study should be edited to include a broader range of skills to more accurately gauge a student’s belief in their abilities. This study brings up the question of how independent projects affect reluctant learners since the students who requested partner projects rated themselves lower on average than those who requested independent projects.
Lee, J., & Galindo, E. (2021).Project-based learning in elementary classrooms: Making mathematics come alive. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.