Award Date

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Christine Clark

Second Committee Member

Howard Gordon

Third Committee Member

Jane McCarthy

Fourth Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study was to understand the essence of student engagement and how it impacted teacher pedagogical decision making in elementary classrooms. Through phenomenological case study, seven participants described their lived understanding of student engagement in order to develop a contextually-based understanding of the phenomenon. This study took place in an urban area of the Southwestern United States where students of color make up a majority of the school’s population. This study found that the essence of student engagement is student interaction and that teachers make pedagogical decisions before and during their lessons in order to engage students or to re-engage student. An additional finding included the importance of social skills. Additional contributions to the field include student engagement via cooperative learning provides more equitable access to education for students of color, and student engagement seems to improve teacher efficacy. Implications for future research include suggestions for enhancing teacher education programs, understanding engagement across contexts, studying the impact of student engagement from prior grade levels on present grade level engagement, and whether social skills deemed admirable in public schools intertwine or merge with outside contexts.


pedagogical decision making; student engagement



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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