Date of Award

Summer 5-30-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership for Learning Dissertations


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Dr. Ugena Whitlock

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Croft

Second Committee Member

Dr. Chinesa Elue


There is a need for educational leaders to improve student engagement in the intermediate classrooms in elementary schools. Student engagement has mainly focused upon increasing student participation and students being compliant in completing classwork. Research over the last two decades has examined how without active student engagement, cognitive student learning will suffer. The years of research have identified several causes for why students are not engaged, including low motivation, a decrease in positive attitude towards school, and high dropout rates. If educational leaders are going to make strides to improve these issues then they must dive into the depths of what will increase engaged learning in the elementary grades, develop critical thinkers and problem solvers, and prepare students who are ready for the working world as collaborative humans who can work well with one another. Therefore, educational leaders must look closely at the ways we are engaging our students in the classroom to ensure they are not just passive listeners, but actively engaged in their learning. This qualitative case-study looks at the leadership characteristics, teacher self-efficacy, instructional practices, and engagement factors contributing to increased student engagement. The action research case study includes seven teachers in fourth and fifth grades and two school leaders. Three data sources used to triangulate the information included interviews, classroom observations, and teacher self-efficacy questionnaires. The results from this study are discussed in detail and an explicit action plan has been formulated including on-going job embedded professional development to increase student engagement within the elementary school.

Keywords: student engagement, active learning, student-centered learning, instructional practices, leadership characteristics, transformational leadership, professional development