The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the effectiveness of access period. Access period was originally designed to offer students a chance to enhance their academic performance by "accessing" a number of resources such as teachers, computers, and miscellaneous library materials. The research questions that emerged from the investigation were: 1) How are students utilizing access period?, 2) How do teachers respond to students utilization of access period?, 3) How are administrators responding to what is taking place in access period?, and 4) What suggestions can be made to better facilitate an access period? There is very little research available that is directly related to the type of independent study time I'm referring to when I speak of access period. The issue essentially centers around the need for an appropriate schedule that facilitates the needs of all students, staff, and community.
This study took place at a rural secondary school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were ninth through twelfth grade students. Information was gathered in various classrooms via observations of students during access period and through a variety of methodological approaches including taped interviews with a teacher and principal and surveys of both staff and students. In order to protect the participants' rights to privacy and anonymity I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in this study.
After collecting and organizing extensive field notes, interviews, and survey responses, various patterns emerged in the way students conceived access period. Access period lacks uniformity of expectations and organization. Students interested in using this time appropriately often encounter an environment not conducive to studying. My research revealed that there are several apparent problems with access period as it is currently being used.
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