Date of Award

8-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

The current focus of many school districts has been to teach students the skills and abilities that will be necessary to become successful individuals in a constantly changing, global environment. As many districts recognize the importance of incorporating more than content and knowledge in their curriculum, they are actively pursuing the intersection of creating life-long learners with current educational requirements and reforms. This means districts are attempting to create adults that are prepared with the ability to learn beyond the settings of the classroom. The goal of every educator, from teacher to superintendent to school board member, is the development of motivated learners who are excited about pursuing knowledge that both the student and the teacher deem meaningful. This thesis project explores how the incorporation of self-directed learning methods affects the motivation of students in a fifth grade language arts class. Additionally, the question of how these self-directed learning methods might affect the meaningfulness of learned material for fifth grade students is addressed. The research data, culled from a focus group of six students of varying academic achievement levels, was gathered over a month and a half time period, and comprised student interviews, surveys, and daily field notes. Several themes identified from the data include – increased student reflection on learning, increased student commitment to material and class projects, and student inconsistencies in writing. While results highlight increased student motivation and eagerness to learn, there was no noted increase with regard to depth of understanding on materials covered during the course of the study.

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