Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Carl, James

Subject Headings

Teacher effectiveness, Education, Elementary -- Research, Sixth grade (Education) -- Ohio -- Cleveland, Students' perception of exemplary teachers, Best Instructional Practices, Qualitative Case Study


The focus on the achievement gap for minority students is an issue facing many school districts across the county. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation highlighted the fact that many minority students are not achieving at or above expected levels in classrooms across America. Teacher quality is found to be an important ingredient of a thriving school. This reflects the NCLB requirement that all schools employ effective and highly qualified teachers. However, teachers cannot be evaluated merely on their credentials, such as attaining graduate degrees or the number of years of teaching experience. Furthermore, politicians, teachers, and economists have proved unsuccessful in eradicating this dilemma of developing successful teaching practices in the classroom. The students themselves may be instrumental in providing valuable information as to what constitutes an effective teacher. Students are seldom interviewed to determine and define what characteristics are vital for an effective educator. The purpose of this study was to identify educational practices and teacher traits that sixth grade students in a diverse suburban school district find successful. Case study methodology was employed for this research. The students were interviewed utilizing semi-structured interview questions. These tools were used to determine the perceptions of exemplary teaching from the perspective of sixth grade at-risk and non at-risk students. By utilizing data from the interviews, participant's drawings, and teacher observations, themes emerged and were analyzed through a constructivist framework. Hands on learning, technology, differentiation, humor, and nurturing teachers were the findings that suggest that schools need to ensure teachers are employing these strategies in their classrooms. The research also suggests that the perceptions of the students themselves must be considered when attempting to improve education and when providing insight to politicians, administrators, and educators

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