Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Barbara Licklider

Second Advisor

James Sweeney


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the influences between and among the student-centered middle school policies and practices; the adult influences of teacher engagement, teacher readiness, and principal leadership; student engagement and the factors that influence student engagement; and the protective factors that promote resiliency. Its specific purposes were: (1) to establish the level of each factor and how each factor was demonstrated in each school; and (2) to determine how the factors influenced one another;A multiple case study design was used with qualitative interviews with students and staff, classroom observations, and artifact analysis supplemented by three quantitative surveys which measured teacher engagement, teacher readiness, and student engagement. All of these data sources were triangulated to form the case study reports. A cross-case analysis established the similarities and differences between the two schools with regard to the factors of this study;Through the examination of the policies and practices of the student-centered middle school, one school was determined to function as a middle school and one as a junior high. The factors were categorized according to relationship-oriented factors and pedagogy-oriented factors. Each factor was described as to its level and how it was demonstrated in the middle school and in the junior high;The relationship-oriented factors are teacher engagement with the school as a social unit and with students as whole individuals; teacher readiness (will and self-efficacy); and the factors that influence student engagement; all were higher in the middle school. The pedagogy-oriented factors are teacher engagement with academic achievement and with the body of content knowledge and the readiness factor of capacity; all were similar in both schools. The student-centered middle school is both relationship-oriented and pedagogy-oriented, while the junior high school is primarily pedagogy-oriented. The leadership style of the principals of the middle school was more empowering; the leadership style of the junior high principal was more directive. Student engagement was similar in both schools. The protective factors that promote resiliency were higher in the middle school than in the junior high.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lesley Kay Forsythe



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

369 pages