The problem driving this research is that, despite the presence of CHAMPS and other similar programs, inner-city students continue to have low academic performance on standardized exams, low class grades, high dropout rates, low literacy standards, and classroom management problems.  The immediate problem for the school examined in this study was the threat of being placed on the Schools Under Registration Review list if student scores did not improve.  This rating would have resulted in the removal of the current school staff and the assignment of new teachers, disrupting the school environment during a restructuring effort.  The present exploratory mixed method single case study therefore examined how CHAMPS was implemented and how it affected the participating students.  This study should benefit New York City middle schools in showing how programs like CHAMPS can be implemented effectively, thus preventing the schools from being placed on review due to underperformance.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this exploratory mixed method single case study was to explain how CHAMPS functions and how it can influence standardized test scores, academic performance, attendance, tardiness, classroom behavior, and self-esteem of middle-school students. This study examined CHAMPS’s use of intramural sports activities as a way of improving academic and social outcomes.  The school had a total enrollment of 720 students in grades 6 through 8; 13 of these students, all of whom participated in CHAMPS, were included in the data-gathering process, along with 18 coaches and teachers.  Data sources included standardized testing results, student report cards, student surveys, teacher surveys, coach surveys, interviews, and direct observation.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided this exploratory mixed method single case study:

  1. Do participants in CHAMPS show improvement in standardized test scores and class grades?
  2. Do participants in CHAMPS show improvement in attendance, tardiness, classroom behavior, and self-esteem?
  3. How do participants perceive that CHAMPS reduces their barriers to learning?
  4. How do participants perceive that CHAMPS influences their overall success in school?
  5. What are the experiences of coaches, teachers, and administrators regarding the implementation and effects of CHAMPS?

Research Method and Design

This study used a mixed-method research approach to explain how CHAMPS functions and how it may influence the standardized test scores, academic performance, attendance, tardiness, classroom behavior, and self-esteem of middle-school students.  A mixed-method research approach involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative data in order to explain or explore a phenomenon (Creswell, 2009).  A mixed-method research approach was appropriate for this study because quantitative data from standardized testing results, student report cards, and surveys provided answers to the quantitative research questions, whereas interviews and direct observation provided additional qualitative insights.

A mixed-method, case-study design was identified as the appropriate approach to achieve the research goals of this study.  A case-study design examines or explores a complex event using all available data, whether qualitative, quantitative, or both (Yin, 2009).  This exploratory mixed method single case study was not limited to one source of data but drew on multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative data to gain an in-depth understanding of how CHAMPS influenced the academic and social behaviors of students in a New York City middle school (Lamnek, 2005).  The multiple sources of data are integrated in such a way as to triangulate the findings, supporting the validity of each data source with another data source (Yin, 2009).

Gerring (2007) set forth similar principles and practices for conducting a case study, especially in categorizing the qualitative data for analysis.  Gerring (2007) indicated that various data sources can be used to develop categories for a qualitative study or qualitative component of a mixed-methods study. In the present exploratory mixed method single case study, this approach fits the resources available and the goals of the research better than other approaches available, so it was considered the most appropriate method.  The quantitative data were standardized testing results, student report cards, and surveys, whereas the qualitative data were interviews and direct observation.  Data were analyzed using statistical analysis and content analysis, with the results triangulated and integrated as part of developing overall conclusions.  Quantitative analysis was conducted to investigate whether participation in CHAMPS resulted in an improvement in standardized test scores, class grades, attendance, tardiness, and classroom behavior.  Qualitative interview data enabled in-depth understanding of how CHAMPS influences students’ academic, social behaviors, and self-esteem.  Responses from the open-ended interviews were coded to generate emerging themes.

The quantitative analysis addressed research questions 1 and 2, while the qualitative analysis addressed research questions 3 through 5 of the study.  The results of the qualitative analysis also provided further observations elucidating the results of the quantitative analysis.  Creswell (2009) suggested that a mixed-methodology approach can increase the accuracy of research results through the combination of multiple sources.

Kathleen B. Fraser, Ed.D. has been a teacher for 18 years. For additional information about this study, she can be reached at kathleenbfraser@gmail.com.

 

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