Date of Award

6-1998

Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

First Advisor

Karen Nelson

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the following research question: How did a mixed-age approach affect younger and older student learning in a kindergarten-first grade classroom? I focused on three specific aspects of the classroom while doing the research. How did the teacher facilitate the mentor role of the older student? How did older and younger students respond to each other? And finally, how were advanced and below average students challenged in this environment? My research addressing these questions about mixed-age grouping was largely based on information gathered from many sources in my literature review. This study took place at an urban K-6 elementary school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants in the research project were from a K/1 mixed-age classroom. Information was gathered in the classroom through a variety of methodological approaches including observations, interviews, and. written surveys. In order to protect the participation rights to privacy and anonymity, I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in this study. After collecting and organizing extensive field notes, interviews, and surveys, I learned many things about the mixed-age classroom and its philosophy. My research revealed the nature of students in this environment to help each other. It also showed how important it was for the teacher to be skilled at developmentally appropriate practices and carrying them out. Moreover, it demonstrated the importance of "parents as partners". Parents were needed to fully support the program in order to carry out teacher's goals. This was a crucial part of the program's success. Finally, this classroom embraced learning as a social process where children work and play together. They were actively preparing themselves for a teamwork oriented future.

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