Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Chair

Trent Atkins

Commitee Members

Fletcher Brown, Matthew Schertz


engagement, support, middle school, boys, montana


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Gender Equity in Education | Other Education


Engagement in school has been recognized as important for achievement in multiple ways, and yet adolescent boys have been observed to be less engaged in school than their female peers. Boys are less motivated than girls, spend less time on homework, and have lower expectations of themselves (Barber, 1996). Boys experience the following school and personal events at rates higher than girls: discipline referrals, suspensions, failing and near-failing grades, and also suicide. This study examined the differential responses between boys and girls in terms of perceived teacher support and student engagement.

The study began with an initial survey distributed to all seventh and eighth grade students. The school closure due to COVID-19 resulted in a lower participation rate in the initial survey. Of 55 boys in seventh and eighth grade, 20 boys (35%) responded to the survey. Of 58 girls in seventh and eighth grade, 45 girls (78%) responded to the survey. Seven of the female respondents (16%) and 4 of the male respondents (25%) reported that teachers do not support them. Male students were then interviewed about their engagement in school. Of the 16 students who reported teacher support, 15 of them (94%) reported engagement in school. Of the 4 students who reported no teacher support, 2 of them (50%) reported engagement in school. In the follow-up interview, students were also asked to identify specific teacher practices that made them feel supported in school. Students identified the following teacher practices as supportive: answering questions and offering help, caring about students as individuals, maintaining high expectations and providing challenging work, and asking students for their opinions and thoughts about the work. These support practices will continue to be identified, implemented, and evaluated in middle school classrooms at Lolo School during upcoming school years.



© Copyright 2020 Melissa Johnson