Acknowledged in: How do middle school teachers perceive their familiarity with the physical, cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial development of middle school students?

Byers L.M. (2014). How do middle school teachers perceive their familiarity with the physical, cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial development of middle school students? Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved from http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/21266/


Abstract: Every day thousands of students ages 10 through 15 walk through the halls of middle schools with a panoply of challenges: new emotions, developing relationships with self and others, and tumultuous physical transformation. Early middle school models called for professional development programs that focused on the unique developmental processes and needs of middle school students. Yet, an underlying theme emerged from this literature review: educators’ lack of understanding of adolescent students. Accordingly, the first aim of this study was to investigate how full-time middle teachers perceived their familiarity with the physical, cognitive, emotional and psychosocial developmental processes of middle school students. A second aim was to identify where teachers became familiar with these processes. Lastly, this study sought to identify how certification (areas and location) might affect perceived familiarity with developmental constructs. A sample of 90 full-time middle school teachers in Pennsylvania provided responses to a survey comprised of self-report scales that identified a) perceived familiarity with physical, cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial development; b) what contributed most to one’s familiarity (i.e., undergraduate and graduate courses, professional development, and experience), and c) where and in what content area(s) the teacher was certified. Neither personal nor professional experiences within relevant domains were found to be associated with significantly higher familiarity scores. Graduate coursework, followed by undergraduate coursework experience, primarily dictated increased familiarity with various domains of middle school student development. No significant correlations were found between either of the two iv coursework experience, primarily dictated increased familiarity with various domains of middle school student development. No significant correlations were found between either of the two experience variables (years as a school teacher and years as a middle school teacher) with respect to physical, cognitive, or emotional development. With respect to specialization, teachers reporting physical or health education specializations not only had higher overall familiarity scores as compared to their counterparts, but also scored higher in the physical, cognitive and emotional domains, perhaps as a function of teaching about development to their pupils. Implications for teacher preparation, professional development, and future research are offered.

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