Examining the influence of academic, procedural, and social factors on students’ transition from elementary to middle school
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The purpose of the study is to examine the perceptions of students, teachers and parents regarding the transition from elementary to middle school. Research was conducted using a sequential mixed methods approach to examine the perceptions and attitudes of key stakeholders involved in the transition process. A purposeful sample of 6th grade students, parents and teachers from four middle schools located in a large suburban school district in Southeastern Texas participated in both a survey and focus group interviews. This study investigated the academic, procedural and social factors that occur in middle school and their influence on the students’ transition process. Analysis was conducted on responses from perception surveys and interviews conducted with students, teachers and parents. The theoretical frameworks used as a basis for this study include both the Stage Fit Environment Theory and Social Bonding Theory. Findings appear to be mixed across stakeholders. Findings related to academic factors from students, teachers, and parents indicated Positive perceptions on most factors including being able to choose some classes, having new teachers, getting good grades, and changing classes. Varied responses were reflected from students, teachers, and parents from the four campuses about pressure to do well, harder classes, and how much homework students are assigned. Responses related to procedural factors showed mostly Positive perceptions from students, teachers, and parents pertaining to being in a larger school, more freedom, older students, more choices at lunch, and new rules and expectations. In slight contrast, stakeholders responded either Positive or Neither Neutral nor Positive about having lockers, using lockers, and riding the bus. Students, teachers, and parents were divided on perceptions related to finding their way around or getting lost, and getting to class on time. Social factors were responded to Positively by stakeholders related to making new friends, participating in sports, clubs, and etc., attending school events, getting along with other students, new and more students, and fitting in. Negative perceptions were reflected about being made fun of, and safety and being hurt by others by most students, teachers, and parents. Variations in responses were observed about feeling pressure to do well by all stakeholder with both Negative and Neither Negative nor Positive perceptions reflected.