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Conquering Student Underachievement

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Erin Gioia

on 6 November 2013

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Transcript of Conquering Student Underachievement

Under the surface
Conquering Student Underachievement
Recognizing student underachievement is just the tip of the iceberg...
Essential Questions
1. What is student underachievement?

2. What are the causes of student underachievement?

3. What strategies can teachers and parents use to prevent underachievement in the classroom?
What is student underachievement?
Underachievement is when there is a discrepancy between what a child CAN do and what they ARE doing.

This can look like:

- High achievement test scores and low class grades
- High IQ score and low class grades
- High IQ score and low achievement score

What are the causes of student underachievement?
Underachievers may display or appear:

- Low self-esteem
- Negative attitude towards school and/or schoolwork
- Rebellious towards authority
- Disorganized
- Overly social (more concerned with outside interests)
- Unhealthy perfectionism

Useful Tools for Identification
There is no perfect method for identifying all underachievers but there are some strategies that can be useful.

1. We can look at longitudinal test data over a period of time. (Rimm, Cornale, Manos, and Behrand, 1989)
a. A steady decline over several years can be an indicator.

2. Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D provides a helpful questionnaire in her book, Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades, for teachers and parents to use.
Underachievement Quiz
Sample questions taken from Sylvia Rimm's website:
Does my child forget to do homework assignments? Does my child give up easily?

Does my child avoid competitive activities unless he/she is almost sure to win?

Does my child start working late on homework each night?

Questions Continued

Does my child forget to do homework assignments?

Does my child give up easily?

Does my child avoid competitive activities unless he/she is almost sure to win?

Does my child start working late on homework each night?

Does my child watch two or more hours of TV (or play two or more hours of video games) on school nights?
Test Continued
A point is given to every yes answered for a question.

A certain number of yeses may be indicative of underachievement.

Food for thought...
Raise your hand if you can think of a student in your class you would identify as an underachiever.
Raise your hand if the student you thought of was a boy.
2-3 males are identified for underachievement for every one female
(Del Siegle, Ph.D).
As educators, we need to ask our ourselves:

Are we underestimating female underachievers?
Are males 3 times more susceptible?
First, let's identify the characteristics of a motivated student:

1. Find value in school experiences.
2. Believe in themselves.
3. Trust their environment and that it will help them succeed.
- Siegle and McCoach, 2005

If we know what's working for our achievers, then what is going on with our underachievers?
Causes for Underachievement
There are several theories as to what causes underachievement.
According to Siegle and McCoach, there are four underlying causes that could be at play:
1. Has a serious cognitive, emotional or physical issue.
2. Feels out of place in their learning environment.
3. Lacks confidence (self-efficacy).
4. Lacks self-regulation and study skills.
What can we do to help our students overcome these obstacles?
What strategies can parents and teachers use to help with underachievement in the classroom?
Why should we care?
The video below was created by a support organization, Alignment Rockford, which helps design and pilot solutions for the public schools in Rockford, IL.
Turn and talk time!
Please turn to your neighbor and discuss the following questions:

1. What were some of the concerns/issues they addressed about underachievement?

2. Are these concerns only relevant to Rockford, IL?

3. What are other consequences about underachievement that were not discussed in the video?
Let's Share!
Please share with us one thing your
neighbor shared with you.
Interest Inventories
Discover your students' interests by having them complete interest inventories.

Use the answers to develop lessons that will incorporate their interests and grab their attention.

Students learn best when interested in the subject matter.

Let's discuss some techniques to engage students:
Interest Inventory Continued
Interest inventory templates will be passed out to each table. Work with your grade level team to develop an interest inventory that will be pertinent to your age group.
Finding Value in the Classroom
Tie academics to their identity.
Draw connections to how lessons will be useful to them now and in the future.
Provide appropriately challenging work and encourage moving forward in the curriculum.

How many of us catch ourselves doing this?

More Strategies
Encourage students to look beyond their deficits and focus on their strengths.
Example: Keep a portfolio of your students' work and show them their progression over time.

Compliment students on their specific skills and development.
Example: "You performed well on your science test. You have an excellent understanding of the stages of matter."

Always use specific feedback and not general praise, like "good job".
Creating a Positive Environment
Students thrive in an environment that is positive and conducive to their learning.
A group of high-schoolers were asked to pick what they desire most from a list of items related to school:
a. Choice
b. Challenge
c. Complexity
d. Control
e. Caring teacher
Most students picked caring teacher. (Siegle)

We cannot forget how invaluable we are in the classroom!
Develop Study Skills
Some students do not perform well simply because they do not know how to effectively study.

Teach your students study skills in the classroom.

Make the test purposely challenging to force them to study.
Del Siegle, professor of gifted education at University of Connecticut, would give a vocabulary test with three words listed. His students were asked to define how all three are the same and how two are more alike than one, ex. hot, warm, cold.

He would purposely mark answers wrong to get students to defend the rationale behind their answers.
Don't be afraid to rattle their cages a little. They need challenge to stay interested!
Parent Involvement
Communicate to parents the need for their assistance with motivating their children.

Despite everything that is thrown at us in the world of education, we must never forget that our students are dependent on us to lead them to success.
Stay the course!
A few words of encouragement...
Back to the Surface
Today, we have learned how to identify, the causes for, and strategies to help with student underachievement. Hopefully you find the information helpful!

Before you leave, please take a post-it and answer the following:
3 Things you learned.
2 Things you can easily use in your classroom.
1 Question you may still have.
What are some of your strategies?
Please use the giant post-it paper to list strategies you have found useful in your own classroom for motivating students.

Work with your grade level and be ready to explain some of the strategies to the whole group.
"Making a Difference: Motivating Gifted Students Who Are Not Achieving"
by Del Siegle and D. Betsy McCoach

The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? Edited by Maureen Neihart, Sally M. Reis, Nancy M. Robinson, Sidney M. Moon

Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students by Thomas P. Hebert

Totally Positive Teaching: A Five-Stage Approach to Energizing Students and Teachers by Joseph Ciaccio

Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades And What You Can Do About It by Dr. Sylvia Rimm
Full transcript