Starting with Rigor
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High school can be a difficult time for students. There are many challenging aspects of balancing schoolwork, work and their growing social life. While in the classroom, I do as much as I can to make sure that my students feel comfortable and welcomed. As a result, students had expressed to me that sometimes they feel as though they are unable to do their schoolwork, so they do not even attempt it. They might feel this way because of people telling them that they cannot achieve high grades in a class, a friend of theirs telling them that they can breeze through the work with no issues, or a myriad of other external factors could be contributing to this feeling. This was the driving force for this action research. I began to think, “is the rigor of the assignment too hard”, “what is the right amount of rigor” or “do students see the link between the subject and the real world”? All of these questions drove my research in seeing if the rigor of the assignment contributed to the perceived learned helplessness and does clearly linking the material to real world examples help students with their learning. Data was collected through a survey, checking grades before and after the implementation and through field notes. Key findings suggest that students’ grades are mostly unchanged by these implementations. Students mostly kept the same letter grade they had before the implementation, but some higher achieving students’ grades improved and their collaboration and helping other students did improve.