Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael F DiPaola Ed.D

Committee Member

Christopher R Gareia

Committee Member

Steven M Constantino


Student engagement is an indicator of student achievement. For students living in poverty it is difficult to engage in a school that is not relatable to their own cultural norms and values. This phenomenological study sought to understand the lived experiences of these students and their teachers related to student engagement. The purpose of this study was to provide insights and perspectives of students’ and teachers’ personal experiences within a mathematics classroom. The key research questions targeted understanding student perceptions of their own level of engagement—behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively; teacher perceptions of their students’ levels of engagement; instructional factors that the students and teachers perceived as influential to student engagement; and determining whether students’ perceptions of their engagement related to assessments of learning and growth in math class. The study relied on interviews, classroom observations, and assessments of learning and growth. There was considerable overlap between teacher and student reports of influential instructional factors. Student perceptions of their own engagement did not conclusively correlate to growth, and neither students nor teachers had a shared definition of each component of engagement. In fact, a major finding was that participants had very different perception about what student engagement looks like in a classroom. Teacher perceptions of student engagement were highest for cognitive engagement and lowest for behavioral engagement, and assessment of learning and growth scores did not consistently align with teachers’ perceptions of student engagement. To effect change appropriately, it is critical to connect with the stakeholders most affected; in this case, a tremendous amount can be gleaned from their lived experiences to influence future policy.



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