Teacher Perceptions of High School Student Failure in the Classroom: Identifying Preventative Practices of Failure Using Critical Incident Technique
Kalahar, Kory G.
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Student failure is a prominent issue in many comprehensive secondary schools nationwide. Researchers studying error, reliability, and performance in organizations have developed and employed a method known as critical incident technique (CIT) for investigating failure. Adopting an action research model, this study involved gathering and analyzing teacher description of critical classroom incidents relevant to 9th grade student failure at Wenatchee High School. Twelve teachers from math, English, and science participated in the semester long study and described classroom experiences with 30 students. Teachers noted an average of seven problems per student and responded with an average of three interventions. The 199 student identified student problems were categorized under the labels of affective, social, physical, vailed, symptomatic, and foundational. The 117 teacher interventions were categorized to four: communication, management, teaching, and systems. No relationship between the number of interventions and number of problems was observed but an association was noted between the number of interventions and number of interventions that teachers reported working. Multiple interventions appeared to improve intervention efficacy. Study findings suggest that teacher subjectivity and discretion are prominent features and that teachers rely heavily on standard teaching and management practices to address problems. A checklist and guidelines were developed from the analysis to stimulate teachers and record responses to struggling students. While a checklist may appear on the surface to be a bit instrumental, the intent of protocol is to remind teachers that what they do does make a difference.