Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Alina Slapac, Ed.D. (Chair)


Natalie Bolton, Ph.D.

Amber Candela, Ph.D.

Nancy Singer, PhD.


Teachers’ effectiveness is associated with their instructional practices and is ultimately linked to students’ learning outcomes. In order to impact teachers’ effectiveness, schools focus substantial effort and resources on professional development led by an assumption that teachers’ classroom practices can be improved through targeted interventions. Even if this premise is correct, little information is available about how much a teacher’s practice may change through interventions, or which aspects of instructional practice are more receptive to improving teacher effectiveness (Garret et al., 2019).

This study took place at an urban middle school and examined teachers’ responsiveness to targeted engagement intervention in their instructional practices during six weeks of virtual learning. These interventions were addressed through action research and consisted of professional development, coaching, and instructional feedback. There were six teacher participants in this study, three math, and three science. Data collected in this study contains observational field notes, coaching plans, coaching cycles, engagement frequency charts, professional development constructs, surveys, artifacts, and interviews.

Findings from this study show: (a) positive responsiveness to teachers’ engagement interventions evidenced by increase in engagement practices during the length of the study; (b) increase in teachers’ perceptions about instructional feedback and professional development; (c) coaching with feedback grounded in data surfaced as most impactful intervention in this study; and; (d) engagement practices relevant to the socio-emotional and behavioral domain were least responsive to change; and (e) teachers’ beliefs and growth mindset drove the need in practice change. There was no evidence of practices in the behavioral engagement domain.

Future recommendations of this are geared towards exploration into virtual environments that address: a) socio-emotional and behavioral engagement domains; b) student-teacher relatedness as referenced by Marzano and Pickering (2011), and c) deep understanding and high participation as referenced by Himmele’s (2011) Cognitive Engagement Model.