What students need, what students say they want: Student perspectives on the promise of smaller learning communities

Cathleen L. Armstead, Ann G. Bessell, Sabrina Sembiante, Miriam Pacheco Plaza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Despite the wealth of studies on smaller learning communities (SLCs), student voices are missing from the debate on high school reform. This article examines how students experience SLCs. Aparticipatory research method, data-in-a-day was used to provide a systematic and inclusive method for gathering data on student perceptions. Data-in-a-day is a quick and efficient way of collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing a broad spectrum of data that can be utilized to evaluate the implementation of reforms in any organization. Utilizing the data-in-a-day process provided a large sample of students and captured a wide range of experiences as expressed by students. The SLC model not only provides a basis for a high-quality education as defined in scholarly research but also provides the learning environment desired by students. The SLC concept calls for small, interdisciplinary teaching and learning teams; rigorous and relevant curriculum and instruction; and a focus on inclusive programming and inclusive classroom practices. SLCs are clearly a key factor in some students' satisfaction and success, and teachers are the driving force behind many students' experiences. Students want what the SLC reform is intended to deliver. Implementing SLCs in an inclusive and systematic way may impact low-performing large, urban high schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
JournalPeabody Journal of Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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