Enhancing Year Twelve students' academic engagement in boys' schools: Students provide their perspective.
Woofe, J. A. (2009). Enhancing Year Twelve students’ academic engagement in boys’ schools: Students provide their perspective. (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/4346
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/4346
This study draws on the perspectives of Year Twelve students in boys' schools toexamine school-wide factors that both enhance and hinder student academicengagement. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 boys from threestate boys' schools in the North Island of New Zealand. During these interviews,boys talked about the things that determine and impact upon their engagement,and they identified school wide changes that they believe would assist them tofocus on their academic studies. The qualitative data provided shows that theseboys are observing and thinking about the manner in which school structures andsystems impact on their engagement in their learning. The findings clearly showthat Year Twelve is challenging for many boys. They report a marked increase inthe level of difficulty of the work from NCEA Level One to Level Two, and acorresponding increase in workload.Their engagement in their studies, which they maintain varies significantly acrosssubjects, is influenced by their enjoyment of the subject and its perceivedrelevance and usefulness to their future goals. The school-wide factors which theboys suggest impact most significantly on their academic engagement are:whether or not they are given the subjects of their choice, the career educationprogrammes they have access to, the number of students in their classes, theiraccess to computers in their regular classes and after school for study purposes,the manner in which the school sets and articulates its expectations, the structureof the school day and timetable, and how the school responds to disruptivestudents in class. The majority of the boys report that NCEA enhances theiracademic engagement, however, some of the strategies the boys report using tomanage NCEA workload can hinder their focus in the classroom. These includeskipping internal standards and not attempting standards in externalexaminations, a decision that is sometimes made well before the event itself.The students in this study offer educators fresh insight into the factors that affecttheir academic engagement and suggest school wide strategies that willpotentially enhance this. This study recommends that quality career education bemade accessible to all students; that schools consider employing a full-timespecialist careers advisor; that class size, course selection processes and schoolwide computer access be addressed; and that schools clearly articulate academicexpectations in ways that include and inspire all students.
The University of Waikato
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