Increasing student active engagement and deeper learning in the classroom: Using targeted professional learning interventions to enhance instructional practices through expanding teachers’ capacity and self-efficacy in a rural K-12 school



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There is a huge divide in the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students and their peers. Many school districts, especially those that serve a disproportionate percentage of economically disadvantaged students, have chosen to address this achievement gap by narrowing the curriculum and focusing instruction time on test preparation strategies. While this may appear to treat the surface symptoms, it does nothing to address these students’ actual issues. This study followed key design-based school improvement, insider action research methodological principles, and intervention strategies advocated and discussed in Mintrop (2016) and Coghlan and Brannick (2014). This study sought to examine how a particular elementary school campus could transform current practices that relied on rote memorization and surface knowledge instruction into a culture of learning that would embrace practices of deeper learning and student-centered instructional methods. This study explored the impact of school principals nurturing robust cultures of collaboration and strong feelings of professional self-efficacy among teachers as intentional means to promote teachers’ instructional effectiveness. The results and findings of this action research study showed that when (a) principal coaching, (b) professional development, and (c) the creation of functioning PLCs are used effectively and in conjunction with one another, there is the potential for positive, measurable impacts on teacher self-efficacy, student engagement, and the amount of deeper learning opportunities afforded to students.



Rural, Student Engagement, STEM, Principal Coaching, Professional Development, PLCs