Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Major

Educational Practice

Date of Defense

4-19-2019

Graduate Advisor

Dr. Phyllis Balcerzak

Committee

Dr. Jennifer Fisher

Dr. Shea Kerkhoff

Abstract

This collective dissertation contains the efforts of a group of curious, committed, and creative educators on the hunt for high-impact instructional approaches that empower and emancipate learners. Although each study within the dissertation is anchored in its own setting--and those settings represent a diverse collection of learning sites--a single thread connects them all: Each study inquires into the impact of a generative pedagogy. By “generative,” we mean to highlight methods that focus on helping learners of all kinds develop creativity and take ownership over their learning, approaches that will help them build agency and grow skills simultaneously. Here, we explore the complex relationships between attitudes and outcomes in several different ways. These studies investigate the efficacy of workshop model instruction, divergent thinking protocols, and explicit growth mindset instruction for students with disabilities in English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms, the impact of choice- and studio-based approaches in Art classrooms, and the overall impact of growth mindset characteristics on teachers’ attitudes and career paths. Generally speaking, these variables were found to have a significant, positive impact on both attitudes and outcomes. Additionally, some of these methods emerged as equity-building practices, working well overall but even better for students in demographic groups that often lag behind. Taken together, these approaches represent a perspective that honors learners as co-constructors of their own knowledge and makes salient a set of skills and habits that can contribute powerfully toward each individual learner’s success.

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