Investigating Connections between Low Self-Efficacy, Low Academic Performance and Future Behavioral Problems of Low SES Students statement of problem: Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are entering schools with very low self-efficacy which is leading to poor academic achievement. Many of these students later develop behavioral problems of increasing severity, leading to dismal prognoses for their future. As a result, they become frustrated and develop external behavioral problems, often increasing in severity and leading to criminal activity.
Researchers have conducted many studies on the constraints of poverty on high achievement (Burney & Beilke, 2008) beginning in elementary schools and continuing throughout high school and beyond. As early as first grade, low reading achievement has been linked to visible outward behavioral problems as soon as two years later (Morgan, Farkas, Tufis & Sperling, 2008) in students from low socioeconomic backgrounds attending urban schools. Direct connections have been established by extensive research (Austin, 1978; Crockett, Eggebeen and Hawkins, 1993) between juvenile behavioral problems in school and later criminal activity.
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This raises the question to examine whether educators in urban school environments can improve these students’ future prognoses using conventional methods. It seems that the probability of our at risk student populations is pointed toward criminal activity and violence, and thereby threatens not only their futures, but the future of our society. This should be investigated further in an effort to address and support the underlying causes of all three factors, together in the whole child rather than eparately or exclusively of each other. We must investigate whether students from low socioeconomic status with low self efficacy in elementary school, later choose criminal behaviors that result in them entering the juvenile justice system. As such, if we find a relationship between the variables, we must conduct further study to address a means of implementing a comprehensive intervention plan to raise self-efficacy and academic achievement, as well as treat any psychological and developmental impairments in the child.
Educational experts have cited the lack of academic parental support in most urban school populations across America (Payne, 1996), due to parents’ perceived lack of ability to help their child, lack of education on the part of the parent, single parent work schedules often extending into after school and evening hours, as well as several others. As a result, educators have implemented instructional techniques to afford such students more opportunities to receive academic assistance in the classroom or in after school programs, or have limited student homework load and accountability.
This only addresses part of the problem, and in fact lowers rather than “raises the bar” of academic performance! Urban schools have many strict behavioral programs and policies in place to address external behavioral problems in the classrooms, such as after school detention, dean referrals, suspensions, etc. These also deal with one isolated piece of the problem, rather than investigating the entirety of the profile of the student. Even those who are referred further to school guidance counselors receive their advocacy from separate entities (academic help from the teacher, discipline from the administration, and advice form the counselor. It seems to be a rare, if not nonexistent practice, for all members intervening with these students to create a collaborative action plan in supporting the student’s self-efficacy, academic deficiencies and behavioral issues as the collective and interwoven facets of the whole student. Research indicates that children who demonstrate negative disciplinary behaviors during elementary school frequently graduate to more serious behavioral and criminal activities, such as bullying, violence, drug use, gang membership, and theft by high school age and beyond (Hawkins, 1998).
There has also been found to be a connection between low socioeconomic status and low self-efficacy (Payne, 1996), as well as between low self efficacy and negative disciplinary behaviors (Hawkins, 1998. ) Purpose of Study: These components, along with the graduation to adolescent and adult criminal activity, need further investigation to render improvement to practicum in the urban classrooms across our nation. We need to consider ways to establish relationships that build self-esteem, resulting in improved academic performance, and lower external behavioral problems that become habitual.
The fruitful accomplishment of this practicum will significantly lower our criminal population in society over time, and bring to fruition high achieving lifetime citizens having a positive impact on our country and our world. This qualitative action research study will investigate possible connections between students from low socioeconomic backgrounds having low self-efficacy as a result of their socioeconomic status, who show low academic performance and later enter the juvenile detention population and/or state and county correctional systems.
This study will support the need for the formation and implementation of school policies and collaborative interventions between teachers, guidance counselors and administrators in charge of discipline and behavior modification procedures in at risk students that meet the aforementioned criterion. It will also serve as a catalyst to positive change in the ethical and cultural value system of said students, as it enforces the value of their potential contributions to society, as well as instilling in them the value of their education in creating greater opportunities for their future.
With concentrated “team” efforts on the part of the professionals interacting with these students in their school environment, they will become aware of the misconception of the limits of their own potential, as they receive consistent support to build self-efficacy and are presented with concrete evidence of the benefits of forming ethical value systems. They will also learn of the value of implementing ethical lifestyle choices and the economic opportunities they will afford for them in college scholarships and future employment as adults. St. Pius V Catholic School & Holy Rosary School of Jacksonville, FL
St. Pius V and Holy Rosary are, respectively an 87-year old, and 40-year old private Catholic schools located in the northeast section of Jacksonville, FL. They are situated in what is considered to be one of the three highest crime areas in the city, especially high in murders (McLeod, 2006). The schools are 100% funded through The Guardian of Dreams, a nonprofit organization dependent upon fundraising and entrepreneurial donations from within the Jacksonville community, to provide quality education to at risk African American students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Most students receive 100% scholarship for tuition. In addition, Guardian of Dreams pays all financial expenses for the schools, such as building, construction, faculty and staff salaries, supplies, technology, etc. All of the students attending the two schools reside in the neighborhoods where the schools are located. Many are from “generational poverty” (Payne, 1996) and live in housing projects and high drug traffic/ murder areas.
They enter these schools with low expectations of themselves academically, as most of the parents enroll them in an effort to safeguard them from danger of violence and very low academic standards at what Duval County Public Schools have deemed “failing” elementary and middle schools in these neighborhoods. Their focus and concentration are more centered on protecting their children from violence and exposure to illicit drugs, rather than “raising the bar” of academic expectation often associated with enrolling students in private schools in the middle and upper-middle class sector.
Although both schools follow the curriculum and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Florida Sunshine State Standards, better than 80% of the student population is non-Catholic. There are stricter behavioral expectations than are found in most public schools in the area. However, professional resources in the schools are limited. There is a part-time guidance counselor at each school, and the principal is the main administrator of discipline. Teachers are aware of the risks the students live under, and that there is often little educational support from the home.
Many of the parents of these students lack the education, time, or motivation to reinforce learning after school hours. Low academic performance is somewhat of an “expectation” on the part of the administrators, teachers, and some of the parents. Contributing factors to said performance are currently being addressed in an isolated format. For example, if there is a chronic behavior problem, such as refusal to comply with instructions or other disruptive behaviors, the student is referred to the administrator for detention, parent contact, etc.
If the student is displaying inability to complete grade level work, has low test grades, or is failing, they are referred to the guidance counselor for academic and cognitive evaluation. Based on the results of this assessment, recommendations might be made to parents to consider tutoring, behavioral counseling outside of the school, or further assessment by a psychologist. Teachers will also document repeating unusual behaviors or academic challenges students are having, and conference individually with parents.
There is not a focus group or concerted team setting to converge upon these issues and formulate any type of unified plan for supporting and providing necessary resources to these students from within the school itself. The following questions arise from the literature studies regarding the likelihood of students from these circumstances to fall under the influence of gangs, drug lords and other illegal activities during high school and beyond: ? Are we addressing the needs of these at risk students when we isolate the issues deterring them? ? Do we need to do more than just refer the families for outside help? Can we reduce the criminal populations in our cities and create productive, highly effective members of society by combining the efforts of teacher, administrator and counselor to form individualized plans for these students when they are at the elementary level, instilling in them the self-efficacy and cultural values to achieve to their full potential? ? Will concentrated plans of action to support at risk youth provide them the resources to overcome generational poverty and the constraints of lacking parental support? Literature Review: (**This is a work in progress! Research Methodology And Participants: Personal, powerful and enlightening, my study will reflect the characteristics of effective action research. “Action research is conducted in the practitioner-researcher’s own educational setting and the practitioner-researcher takes an active part in the process; it involves collaboration with other educators and persons involved in the educational process; it focuses on taking action to change and improve educational practices; and it is ongoing and includes several waves of data collection, reflection, and action. (2006, Lodico, p. 290) I will begin with an in-depth study of the literature addressing students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and low self-efficacy and academic performance, as well as literature regarding juvenile and adult criminal behavior histories and patterns of said students. Next, I will solicit support from both St.
Pius V School and Holy Rosary, as well as two public elementary and two secondary schools in the 32209 neighborhood (to be determined at a later date), where these schools are located. With their approval, I will ask the teachers, administrators and guidance counselors, as well as parents, to complete a survey questionnaire addressing their observations of low self-efficacy and low academic performance in their students, as well as whether any of the tudents later exhibited criminal behavior. The survey will also address whether or not the students received counseling in or outside of the school setting during their elementary school years, whether the academic performance of the individual school met satisfactory progress according to county or state standards, what discipline systems were enforced at the school, and whether illegal drugs and violence were prevalent in the school and home neighborhood of the students.
While survey is being undertaken, I will ask to review student cumulative folders from each school, keeping student identities anonymous. I will make notes as to disciplinary referrals, frequency of discipline problems, interventions undertaken by the school or outside entities, such as Department of Children & Families, Juvenile Detention programs, and physicians, as found within the folders. I will also note demographic information on students whose files contain said items, such as physical address, parents’ residential information, parent employment information.
The purpose of these notations will be to look for relationships between physical addresses and economic status, employment information and economic status, residential information and level of criminal activity according to city records. I will also look for relationships between the aforementioned factors AND number of parents in home, and types of disciplinary behavioral issues. I will use the city of Jacksonville’s criminal historiography to look at the data concerning neighborhoods and zip codes with high drug and violence ratings, and compare these to the demographic information from the students’ cumulative folders.
After reviewing the survey questionnaire, I will interview teachers, administrators and guidance counselors from participating schools, as well as parents willing to participate in the study. I will also contact the Duval County Juvenile Detention Facility and request a referral to interview 10 students currently residing in the facility who formerly attended one or more of the schools involved in the study.
Next, I will interview officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department, and question them as to the propondency for drug and violent crimes found in the neighborhoods found in the students’ folders, as well as questions regarding the median age, race and gender of the majority of the arrests made in these areas. My next step will be to conduct nonparticipant observations in at least 10 classrooms between 6 participating schools, 5 classes at the elementary level, and 5 at the secondary level. I should note that all schools selected have been defined by the Duval County School Board as urban, based on the schools being populated with 60% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch] During observations, I will try to be as unobtrusive as possible and will be taking field notes in each class addressing the following: In the elementary classrooms, do the students seem confident and capable of working on assignments independently, or do I note frustration or emotional uncertainty as the students are working?
What is the attire of the students (condition of their clothing)? How do they interact with their peers, and with their teacher? Do they ask for help? I will ask for access to student records, such as report cards/ progress reports, academic assessments given and CUM folders containing family demographic information, such as neighborhood of residence, family composition (married, single, etc. ) In these folders there will also be copies of any disciplinary referrals the student has had in their academic career.
I will also interview school psychologists/ guidance counselors at as many of the schools as possible and ask what types of intervention practices they use in treating students with chronic disciplinary problems within the school. I will also ask what percentage of students who have repeat behavioral referrals are referred to the school psychologist and what the perameters of such referrals are. For example, how many disciplinary referrals, and of what nature does a student have to have before being referred.
Once referred, how many sessions is the student required to attend, and what type of interventions are used at these sessions. Do sessions include parents or other authority figures or just the student alone? What behaviors have to be present for the school psychologist to refer the child for further treatment and assessment outside of the school? What is the follow-up procedure on verifying whether the student is in fact sent for treatment after a referral is made to the parents? Are there any legal implications in place that the school can use to enforce the parents getting help for the child, and if so, what are they?
Does the psychologist work with the teacher and/or disciplinary administrator in creating a plan for the student to follow and track improvements, regressions in behavior? In my interview with the school dean or disciplinary administrators, I will ask similar questions, such as what type of behavior does a student at that school have to exhibit in order to receive a disciplinary referral. I will also ask what the procedure is for multiple referrals, and what interventions are used. I will ask if the dean and classroom teachers work collaboratively in designing incentives or deterrents to help keep the student on track.
In the secondary school classrooms, I will make the following observations and field notes: Are the students cooperative and compliant with teacher requests? How do they conduct themselves in hallways and other places in the school? Do they frequently attempt to leave the room? Are they attentive to instruction? Are they able and willing to complete independent class assignments? What is the condition of their clothing? How do they interact with their peers and teachers? Do they display aggression? Is their body language aggressive or defensive?
I will also request access to student records and make notes about academic performance, disciplinary issues and family demographics. Data Analysis: I will begin by selecting one administrator, one guidance counselor and at least 6 teachers to form a focus group to meet at St. Pius V School, where I am currently employed as a classroom teacher. The participants in the focus group will come from the two private schools as well as at least two of the public schools, at both the elementary and secondary level. The group will consist of at least 8 members.
We will discuss the results of the survey and interviews, cumulative folder data analysis, as well as the literature review. We will also look at the report of my findings during the class observations. With this information, I will hope to formulate a change in policy and procedure, as well as a collaborative program implementation to more effectively support the academic and sociological success of all present and future at risk students by treating the “whole child” and addressing all risk factors in collaboration, with individualized intervention plans for success.
I will also forward the results of the study, as well as any changes and programs implemented at our schools, to all other schools who participated in the study, and the administrating school boards for both Duval County and the Diocese of St. Augustine. Study Limitations: Due to the large amount of teacher accountability and workload in Duval County currently, it may be difficult for me to find urban public schools willing to participate in my study, especially since the results of the study could lead to their having to change existing policies or procedures.
In addition, it may be difficult to find teachers willing to donate their time and expertise to participate in the focus group, classroom observations and interviews. I also will likely only be allowed very limited time and access to the juveniles in custody at the Detention Center, and will have no way of accounting for the accuracy of their statements, nor their willingness to participate. Also, in urban neighborhoods such as these, it may be difficult to solicit participation from the parents in the survey. References: Austin, R. L. (1978). Race, father absence and female delinquency.
Criminology 15(4):487–504. Burney, V. H. & Bielke, J. (2008). Journal for the Education of the Gifted; Spring 2008; 31(3). The constraints of poverty on high achievement. Research Library p. 171. Crockett, L. J. , Eggebeen, D. J. , and Hawkins, A. J. (1993). Father’s presence and young children’s behavioral and cognitive adjustment. Journal of Family Issues 14(3):355–377. Hawkins, J. D. (1998). A review of predictors of youth violence. In Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions, edited by R. Loeber and D. P. Farrington.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 106–146. Lodico, M. G. , Spaulding, D. T. , & Voegtle, K. H. (2006). Methods in educational research; From theory to practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. McLeod, M. (2006). Financial News & Daily Record; October 2008; Legal aid maps foreclosure, murder. Morgan, P. L. , Farkas, G. , Tufis, P. & Sperling, R. (2008). Journal of learning disabilities; 41(5). Are reading and behavior problems factors for each other. ProQuest Medical Library p. 417. Payne, R. (1996). A framework for understanding poverty. Third Revised Edition; 2003.