Educators' perceptions of the impact block schedules have on student/teacher relations and student behaviors

Kesia Tenisha Pope

Abstract

Block scheduling is being incorporated in schools across America, and it is improving the educational benefits gained by secondary students (Queen and Gaskey, 1997). During the nineties, nearly half of our nation's schools adopted block schedules which have extended 90-minute periods. Transitioning from the traditional 50-minute learning segments to 90-minute sessions became extremely popular as the "alternate block" and "four-by-four" block, dominated. The purpose of this study was to investigate educators' perceptions of how block schedules impact student-teacher relations and student behaviors. Two hundred nine school personnel from a southeastern state were polled. Data were gathered using a 22 question instrument that was created by the investigator and divided into three parts. Part I solicited information about the subjects' background, and Part II was equipped with a Likert scale for the subjects to rate statements on a scale from 1.0 to 4.0. Part III solicited the subjects' opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of block schedules through two open-ended questions. Statistical differences were found between the data submitted by the alternate block personnel and the four-by-four block personnel. Multiple t-tests were run on the data, and they revealed a significant difference on 12 of the 13 questions. The four-by-four personnel ratings were always more favorable or positive than those personnel who were on the alternate block. Thus, educational leaders should carefully consider the implementation of new schedule types since school personnel must adjust to the challenges that accompany schedule changes. Conclusions of the study showed that 40% of the personnel employed on the alternate block schedule and 25% of the personnel who work on the four-by-four have had no training to do so. Also, nearly 35% of both, alternate block personnel and four-by-four personnel surveyed, found it challenging to keep students on task during the block classes. Recommendations were that new school personnel be introduced and oriented to the advantages and disadvantages of block schedules before they are implemented. School districts should be proactive in this sense in an attempt to primarily assist teachers become more effective and efficient; therefore, they will then become better equipped to meet students' needs. It is also recommended that a study investigate the strategies university professors use to prepare education majors. Such data would be beneficial as it would form a foundation for better teacher preparation and perhaps add more reality to the education curriculum.