Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joanne Marshall


The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to examine cognitive engagement in high school classrooms from the perspectives of twelve high school seniors who were members of the National Honor Society. No empirical studies have been conducted to explore how students perceive cognitive engagement before and after receiving training in gauging system-wide levels of student engagement, based on the Instructional Practices Inventory (IPI).

These seniors participated in two focus groups and individual interviews, utilizing a semi-structured, open-ended interview protocol to elicit responses to questions in order to discover meaning, themes, and patterns in the perceptions of these high school seniors regarding their own and other students' levels of engagement in high school. Participants were also trained with the IPI training protocol to become IPI data collectors to assess levels of student engagement within high school classrooms, utilizing the IPI, in a rural Iowa, mid-size school system.

Analysis for this research was completed using the constant comparative model which is a method for analyzing data in order to generate a theory formed from the data and based on inductive reasoning. Findings indicated a general understanding among high school seniors as to how they are and are not cognitively engaged in high school classrooms based on the following six categories: compliance, feedback and encouragement, enjoyment and interest, challenge and rigor, relationships and expectations, and control and choice. Understanding how cognitive engagement is conceptualized and experienced by high school seniors may lead to enhanced learning conditions for them. This research has implications for utilizing student voices, via high school seniors, for articulating a consistent perspective on perceived levels of cognitive engagement in high school classrooms. These findings also have the potential to inform teacher pedagogical practices, as well as increase understanding of the importance of listening to the student voice. Further studies were recommended to determine if similar results would occur when students from different social, economic, geographic, and ethnic areas are included.


Copyright Owner

Jo Ann Prusha



File Format


File Size

177 pages