ADMINISTRATOR, TEACHER AND PARENT PERCEPTIONS OF STUDENTSâ SENSE OF COMMUNITY IN ONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Sheers, Kelly L.
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Researchers have found that schools that support a studentsâ sense of community (SOC) positively affect studentsâ academic achievement, behavior, motivation, and social and emotional competencies (Bryk & Driscoll, 1995; Schaps, 2003; Schaps, Battistich & Solomon, 1997; Goodenow & Grady, 1993; Ladd, 1990; Resnick & Bearman, 1997; Wentzel, 1997). The purpose of this study is to explore, analyze, and describe characteristics of an elementary school that reports a high sense of community among students and to describe adult perceptions on the schoolâ s program, activities, and practices that are in place to contribute to the SOC. Schools that provide a high SOC appear to have certain collective key characteristics that have been identified in the research literature: respect, trust, and kindness; a sense of belonging; caring; regular contact; shared governance; and order and discipline among the students of the school. The following overall research questions focus this study: 1. How does an elementary school identified as having a strong SOC support its studentsâ sense of community? 2. What are the administrator, teacher, and parent perceptions of why the students have a SOC within the selected elementary school? 3. What evidence is there that these six key characteristics (respect, trust, and kindness; a sense of belonging; caring; regular contact; shared governance; and order and discipline) are present within the selected elementary school? 4. What similarities and differences are seen between the perceptions of teachers, administrators, and parents regarding these key characteristics (respect, trust, and kindness; a sense of belonging; caring; regular contact; shared governance; and order and discipline) within the selected elementary school? A mixed methods approach was used. The study used surveys, interviews, observations, and document analysis to investigate administrator, teacher, and parent perceptions of the studentsâ SOC at the selected school. The researcher identified and examined distinct characteristics that can assist schools in supporting a studentâ s SOC. The study describes a school program and identifies key activities and practices of a school that reports a strong SOC among students.
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