Parker, James H., IV. (2015). Middle school educators’ perceptions of student backgrounds affecting student academic outcomes in rural coastal North Carolina. Doctoral dissertation (Education), North Carolina State University.

Abstract: The perceptions of educators affect their students. When educators discount their student’s ability to be successful based on student background, this is termed “deficit thinking.” Deficit thinking reinforces the stereotype threats of students, which may cause lowered academic outcomes for these students. Q-methodology was utilized to investigate the subjective opinions of middle school educators. I reviewed literature on deficit thinking and interviewed middle school educators pertaining to student background affecting educational outcomes to create a set of statements. Statements were printed on cards. Thirty-one middle school educators sorted the cards, in a forced distribution, according to their beliefs about student background. The Q-sorts were factor analyzed to reveal statistical correlations among the administrators. One-on-one and focus group interviews for each factor were conducted in order to gain more insight about the middle school educators’ perceptions of student background affecting educational outcomes. Data analysis indicated three statistically significant factors. Along with these factors, data emerged explaining how middle school educators view the role of student background affecting educational outcomes. The findings of this study generate insights into middle school educators’ perceptions of their students and provide policy makers, researchers, and practitioners with information about this important topic.

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