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3 Minute Thesis: Kathleen Hill (Doctoral Second Place)

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3 Minute Thesis: Kathleen Hill (Doctoral Second Place)


I don’t know if you’ve heard,
but Nevada was recently ranked 50th in education. This is a concern, because
in the coming years, our economy will
require more workers with some type of post-secondary
education or training. But it’s projected
that we won’t be able to fill workforce needs. This is a concern
not only in Nevada, but in the rest of the country. Educators have attempted
to fill this gap by implementing college
and career readiness standards in schools. But it’s not been enough. What seems to be missing
from the conversation is student voice. My study investigated
student voice. Specifically, how early
adolescents understand college and career readiness
conceptually and in relation to their own lives. I interviewed 44 students over
the course of three years. They were from eight
different schools in Nevada. I interviewed them
from their 7th through their 9th grade years. As I conducted
the data analysis, I began to see
that students were able to make this connection– or not– between their
current academic progress and their future aspirations. Some of the students were
able to align the two. For 2/3 of the
students in the study, however, they were not
able to align the two. This is a concern. Now, when I compared my
findings to the literature, I began to see that
there was this connection between alignment
and motivation. So students in the
aligned group tended to exhibit
characteristics that were more consistent with
intrinsic motivation, or being motivated internally. Students in the misaligned
group exhibited characteristics more consistent with
extrinsic motivation, or motivation based on
rewards and punishment. In some cases, they
were a-motivated– not motivated at all. So the question now becomes– how can we increase
student motivation in order to increase alignment
and college and career readiness to provide
for our economy? One model that’s been shown
to increase student motivation is the Student
Empowerment Model. There was a low-income
urban high school in the Midwest that implemented
the Student Empowerment Model. Students had better
relationships with their teachers and
other staff at the school, they had more of a voice in
decision making at the school level, and they became more
invested in their education. In an eight year
period, this school went from a 47% graduation rate
to an 83% graduation rate– higher than the state average. So the Student Empowerment
Model is something that educators should consider
when they want to increase college and career readiness. It is not enough
to let students be treated as passive vessels
in their education. Rather than treating students
and doing things to them, it’s time we work with students
in order to affect change. Student voice is
important, it is critical, and it is powerful. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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