Impact on Student Learning - CIRCA DE RIO the essay question and that the second and third ... and goals and in the “sunrays” the student includes inferences ... IMPACT ON STUDENT LEARNING 7

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  • Impact of Pedagogical Interventions on Student Learning

    Brian Rio

    Hunter College


  • Impact of Pedagogical Interventions on Student Learning

    The following is an analysis of three student case studies from my student teaching

    experience at a medium-sized high school in Manhattan. The information was collected from

    ninth grade students during the spring semester (January - May 2013). Each case study includes a

    description of the student, results of a pre-assessment, specific pedagogical strategies used with

    that student, applicable corresponding theoretical research, post-assessments, and reflection on

    student learning.

    Student Characteristics

    Student A is a Hispanic female who received a 70 in English for the first semester. This

    student is polite and participates consistently in class. She retains a positive attitude despite her

    academic struggles and difficulty interacting socially with some classmates. Student A has an

    Individualized Education Program (IEP) that allows for extra time on tests, but has not been

    diagnosed with a specific learning disorder. I chose this student because my cooperating teacher

    mentioned her as an example of a student who consistently fails tests despite her in-class

    demeanor and willingness to participate. My cooperating teacher has even provided a detailed

    report of this students academic struggles to the school principal. My goal with this student is to

    assist with reading comprehension and improve her test-taking skills.

    Student B is an Asian male who received a 75 in English for the first semester. This

    student is funny and engaging, even if his answers to questions in class often lack depth. He is an

    average student who has steadily improved. Being one of few Asian students in the school, he

    was initially shy to participate in class according to my cooperating teacher. At this point in the

    year, however, he has found his place and voice in the class and is not hesitant to contribute. He


  • also asks very good questions. I chose this student because he came to after-school tutoring to

    ask specifically for help with his writing. It is clear he wants to do well, but needs help

    organizing his thoughts. My goal with this student is to help refine his writing as he goes

    through the process of creating a structured essay.

    Student C is a Hispanic male who received a 90 in English for the first semester. This

    student rarely participates in class and sometimes struggles to find the right words when he is

    called on to answer questions. However, he is an above average student and an example of

    someone who might fly under the radar until he hands in written work or takes a test. I chose

    this student because of that disparity, and also because when I read his pre-assessment essay, it

    was clearly advanced for his grade level. The word selection, insight and organization gave it a

    style that most freshman are not close to developing yet. We incorporated examples of previous

    student work into the writing process, and used his work for most of it. He also received the

    highest grade on the first multiple choice test. My goal with this student is to help him improve

    his writing by using higher standards and more advanced concepts (e.g. passive voice) that match

    his ability level and potential.


    The pre-assessment for each student case study is a standard 5-paragraph essay on The

    Perks of Being a Wallflower. The assignment asked students to discuss how unresolved

    conflicts lead to self-destruction, dysfunctional relationships, and cycles of abuse. Students

    spent over a week of class time on the essay writing process, with mini lessons on each section

    (introduction, incorporating evidence, and conclusion). Students wrote multiple drafts and

    received feedback from their peers during in-class review sessions. The essay assignment, rubric


  • and full student responses are included in the appendix. Below are details on each students pre-


    Student A received a 70 (14/20) on her Perks essay. While the essay is solid

    grammatically, it demonstrates her challenges in organizing her thoughts and sticking to the

    assignment. For instance, the comments on her rubric were that the first body paragraph does not

    address the essay question and that the second and third paragraphs basically repeat each other.

    In the conclusion this student says that mistreatment in the novel portrays emotional and

    physical neglect; however, most of the examples she cites in the essay center around actual

    confrontations as opposed to neglect. The bulk of the essay is plot summary with little analysis

    (which is a common problem among beginner writers). The inconsistencies in her writing point

    to a need for development in reading comprehension. She must first understand what she is

    reading in order to write cohesive and coherent analytical statements. She must also be clear on

    what the assignment is asking, which speaks to the same basic issue.

    Student B received an 80 (16/20) on his Perks essay. He received 3/4 on all rubric

    sections with the exception of a 4/4 on organization. This essay is well organized, but there are

    some tense and pronoun inconsistencies that make some of the sentences sound awkward. For

    example, She hurt herself and eventually hurting her young nephew and If you do not love

    self no one will. There is a logic evident in how he explains different examples he uses to

    support his thesis statement. In the paragraph about Charlie, he discusses that characters

    relationship with his aunt, how he abuses drugs and alcohol before coming to terms with what

    happened to him, and then finally how he turned it around when he chose to forgive his aunt. I

    am going to focus on cleaning up this students writing and determining whether his word


  • selection in those tricky sentences is a matter of not understanding grammar rules or just lack of

    attention to revision. My inclination is that it is the latter.

    Student C received a perfect score (20/20) on his Perks essay. His thesis statement is

    clear and well-written: Unresolved conflicts inevitably propel us to self-destruction,

    dysfunctional relationships, and cycles of abuse as shown in Chobskys astounding novel The

    Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is a level of clarity and conciseness that other freshman

    students are struggling to achieve, and his vocabulary (e.g. propel astounding) is also well

    developed. He includes transitions between ideas and paragraphs as well, something even

    college writers can struggle with. We used one of his body paragraphs in class as an exemplar for

    students during the next essay writing process. This student needs help in polishing his writing

    (e.g. one more review and reading it aloud to catch minor errors or sentences that sound strange).

    He also should be exposed to higher level writing strategies like improving transitions and issues

    like passive voice.

    Pedagogical Strategies

    For Student A, the pedagogical strategies revolved around improving her reading

    comprehension skills by breaking down what we are reading into smaller, more digestible parts.

    There were two parts to my work with this student: 1) worksheets to help her understand what

    she is reading; 2) close reading of nonfiction passages. Both of these formative assessments

    involved group work with her peers and whole class instruction. McMillan (2003) stresses the

    importance of these types of checks for understanding: Formative ongoing assessments such as

    daily checks and informal observation, were most informative in relation to instructional

    decisions. I developed a worksheet to keep track of character analysis and development. This


  • graphic organizer has a sunshine for each main character - inside the sun, students list conflicts

    and goals and in the sunrays the student includes inferences and important character traits. As

    we continue reading, the students update their worksheet to note how characters develop over

    time and what they symbolize in the context of the story and time period of the play. This

    worksheet is designed to help struggling readers keep track and make sense of what they have

    read, and becomes a study guide for the tests and a starting point for an essay.

    The second part of this intervention involved several close readings, with small groups

    working to analyze and understand each passage after they were read aloud to the whole class.

    Lent (2009) explains the rationale for this: Read interesting and challenging texts aloud to

    students, if only a few pages a day, and pepper your reading with thoughtful questions for them

    to consider. Before beginning a new unit on Lorraine Hansberrys A Raisin in the Sun, for

    example, we read aloud a nonfiction article about Chicago in the 1950s1. Here is the opening

    line of the article for an example of the texts complexity: The black population in Chicago

    significantly increased in the early to mid-1900s, due to the Great Migration out of the South.

    Below are three sample questions that the students worked together to answer in dif