In 2009, the Gardner Center began working in partnership with the Redwood City School District to gain a deeper understanding of classroom practices to promote motivation and achievement in middle school. Each spring, all middle school students in the district completed a survey about their motivational beliefs and classroom experiences. In response to conversations with teachers and administrators, the 2011 survey incorporated a new set of questions to capture students’ perceptions of classroom practices that convey care and support. This analysis explores various kinds of caring classroom practices and the extent to which these practices motivate students to learn. Key findings include: (1) Students’ motivational beliefs are predictors of their math achievement. (2) Caring classroom practices are associated with increases in students’ motivational beliefs. (3) Perceptions of caring classroom practices differ according to students’ grade and math proficiency level. This research suggests that all RCSD middle school students can benefit from practices that communicate care for students as individuals and as a group of learners regardless of their gender, ethnicity, income level, or academic history.
Strobel, K. and Borsato, G. (2012). Caring and motivating middle school classrooms. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities.