Graduation Date

5-2014

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Abstract

Now, more so than in the past, children have been deprived of the opportunity to learn and exercise effective interpersonal communication skills. Interpersonal communication skills, for elementary students, are important in the development of a student’s ability to self-advocate. The purpose of this study is to identify techniques in which teachers may support interpersonal communication and self-advocacy skills among school-aged children. The literature reveals the importance of self-advocacy and help-seeking strategies on students’ academic success. Unfortunately, as students approach the upper-elementary grades, they are bombarded with competing interests that can inhibit their help-seeking ability. Research methods used followed teacher action research carried out in a California public school. Surveys were examined for correlations and themes. Initial interviews were conducted with experts in the field and communication techniques were gathered from the literature. The results indicated that students’ help-seeking ability depended on a vast array of factors, including, but not limited to: gender, genetic factors, subject, classroom environment, teacher trust, agency, autonomy, competing academic and social goals, and peer comparison. These findings also aligned developmentally with prior research and mirrored parent/guardian help-seeking ability.

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