When it comes to motivating people to learn, disadvantaged urban adolescents are usually perceived as a hard sell. Yet, in a recent MetLife survey, 89 percent of the low-income students claimed I really want to learn applied to them.
What is it about the school environment pedagogy, curriculum, climate, organization that encourages or discourages engagement in school activities? How do peers, family, and community affect adolescents attitudes towards learning? Engaging Schools reviews current research on what shapes adolescents school engagement and motivation to learn including new findings on students sense of belonging and looks at ways these can be used to reform urban high schools.
This book discusses what changes hold the greatest promise for increasing students motivation to learn in these schools. It looks at various approaches to reform through different methods of instruction and assessment, adjustments in school size, vocational teaching, and other key areas. Examples of innovative schools, classrooms, and out-of-school programs that have proved successful in getting high school kids excited about learning are also included.
"This is a superb, cogently written and important book. Its terms of reference are almost entirely American urban high schools; its research is almost entirely US-based; but its implications are, I suspect, universal. ... So what makes it so good? First, it is unflinching in its analysis. This is not another watered-down thesis or knee-jerk hypothesis. The authors paint a picture of schools that 'fail to meet he needs of too many of their students.' ... Then, based on an extraordinary range of case studies and research programmes, it provides an analysis and suggested solutions. ... The book uses wide-ranging research in an exemplary way, tackling tough issues, making firm recommendations about the curriculum (it needs to change), teaching styles (ditto) and assessment (less of it.)"
-- Times Educational Supplement, May 7, 2004
"This National Research Council report on U.S. high school students' motivation to learn asserts that children begin formal education with an eagerness to learn but disengage when high school begins. The authors synthesize the literature on motivation, learning, and engagement, and conclude that engagement results when challenging but attainable academic standards are enforced; student interaction with adults is encouraged and sustained; curriculum is meaningful and relevant to the learners; and students perceive a clear connection between what they learn and its application in the outside world. The authors present 12 models of high school reform that integrate these four characteristics and show promising evidence of effectiveness. Students are complex, and high schools operate within a sociohistorical, economic, political, and community context; therefore, successful implementation of engaging high school programs is dependent on finding an effective solution in which all of these influences coalesce. The emphasis in this book is on what constitutes engaging high schools and not how they will emerge. The authors urge persistence in striving for reform to enhance engagement of all U.S. high school students."
--Choice, October 2004
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