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Enhancing Year Twelve students' academic engagement in boys' schools: Students provide their perspective.

This study draws on the perspectives of Year Twelve students in boys' schools to examine school-wide factors that both enhance and hinder student academic engagement. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 boys from three state 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 to focus on their academic studies. The qualitative data provided shows that these boys are observing and thinking about the manner in which school structures and systems impact on their engagement in their learning. The findings clearly show that Year Twelve is challenging for many boys. They report a marked increase in the level of difficulty of the work from NCEA Level One to Level Two, and a corresponding increase in workload. Their engagement in their studies, which they maintain varies significantly across subjects, is influenced by their enjoyment of the subject and its perceived relevance and usefulness to their future goals. The school-wide factors which the boys suggest impact most significantly on their academic engagement are: whether or not they are given the subjects of their choice, the career education programmes they have access to, the number of students in their classes, their access to computers in their regular classes and after school for study purposes, the manner in which the school sets and articulates its expectations, the structure of the school day and timetable, and how the school responds to disruptive students in class. The majority of the boys report that NCEA enhances their academic engagement, however, some of the strategies the boys report using to manage NCEA workload can hinder their focus in the classroom. These include skipping internal standards and not attempting standards in external examinations, a decision that is sometimes made well before the event itself. The students in this study offer educators fresh insight into the factors that affect their academic engagement and suggest school wide strategies that will potentially enhance this. This study recommends that quality career education be made accessible to all students; that schools consider employing a full-time specialist careers advisor; that class size, course selection processes and school wide computer access be addressed; and that schools clearly articulate academic expectations in ways that include and inspire all students.
Type of thesis
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 https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4346
The University of Waikato
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