Final Action Research Paper-Medina

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Impact of a Dress Code in an Urban Middle School 18

Impact of a Dress Code in an Urban Middle SchoolDaniel MedinaSpring 2014INTE 6720

Introduction and Problem StatementFor the past three years I have been teaching 8th Grade Social Studies in an urban Middle School. The first year I taught at my school there was no dress code policy in place. Over the last 2 years our school has implemented a mandatory dress code policy, in an attempt to build a safer learning environment for students and staff alike. Over the course of 2 years I have noticed both the advantages and disadvantages that a dress code has to offer with the population of students that we serve. The advantages are manifested with less noticeable gang activity along with an increased sense of community within the student body. However, it also seems to place low income families at a disadvantage. The disadvantage stems from the fact that paying for uniforms can be a challenge for some low income families. The dress code presented an excellent learning opportunity for me to build a greater understanding of the impact it has within our school and the community that it serves.Purposed and Intended AudienceThe purpose of my research was to gain insight surrounding the impacts that a dress code has on major stakeholders such as students, teachers, administrators and families within an urban Middle School. My research included both quantitative and qualitative data from teachers, students, administrators and a school counselor. The quantitative data was used to researched and identify the similarities or differences that exist between teacher and student perceptions of school safety as well as its impact upon the learning environment. Qualitative data analysis was accomplished through interviews. I analyzed the interviews of teachers and an administrator surrounding the advantages or disadvantages of the dress code. A school counselor was interviewed to provide me with information about the impacts that the dress code has upon families and students. The intended audiences for this action research project are eighth grade teachers, administrators and students. Eighth grade teachers have mixed feelings on the effectiveness and impact of the dress code. This project will provide them with more angles when dealing with dress code issues moving forward. Ultimately, the dress code impacts students and their families the most.Research Questions According to Stringer reflection often reveals subsidiary questions that provide the basis for a more systematic and comprehensive investigation (Stringer, 2007, p. 101). I feel that the 4 guiding questions allowed me to complete a comprehensive investigation by uncovering the underlining effects that the dress code has had upon our school by getting to the core of the research. It was evident during the interview and survey process that the stakeholders involved were prompted to think about and reflect upon the impact of the dress code in our school. These are the original overarching questions that guided all of my research.What are advantages and disadvantages of a dress code? This overarching question allowed me to gather data about the benefits and drawbacks of our dress code. This provided the interviewee a chance to express their beliefs in a way that is most relevant to them. How does a dress code impact the perception of safety? It is difficult to prove that a dress code makes our school a safer place. However, this question helped me to gain a much clearer understanding on how stakeholders in our school view the connection between the dress code and the perception of school safety.How does the dress code impact the learning environment? This question was used to gain insight into various aspects that affect our classrooms in relation to the dress code. The question allowed me to compare and contrast the different in perspective between teachers and students. How does the dress code impact families? I wanted to create a piece of inquiry to figure out how the dress code impacts the families we serve. Context of StudyThe Middle School I teach at has been serving its community for the last 23 years. The school serves a highly diverse group of students, with a 76% population of Hispanic students and with 85% of our students currently on free or reduced lunch. Three years ago our school was restructured with administrators and staff due to consistently poor TCAP performance. With the announcement that our school would undergo and apply for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) accreditation it hired many new teachers. The goal of hiring new teachers was to build a staff that supports flexible planning, co-teaching and interdisciplinary units of study. Due to the fact that IB-MYP fosters rigorous learning while promoting global awareness and appreciation for cultures it was pursued by our administration. We strive to instill in our students an appreciation for all cultures through teaching global contexts and by offering 3 languages.The year after our goals for IB-MYP accreditation were pursued our administration implemented a mandatory dress code. The area of town that our school resides in has above average gang activity and so our administration wanted to eliminate its visual presence in our school. The overall goal was to promote a safer learning environment for students and teachers. Two years after the dress code implementation, there are still questions surrounding the dress code and its impact and effectiveness. The dress code requires students to wear khaki pants with either a blue, grey or white collared shirt. I consistently hear comments from teachers and students about the dress code, which makes this action research study worth pursuing.Literature ReviewThe dress code presents an excellent learning opportunity for me to build a greater understanding of the impact it has within our school and the community that it serves. Therefore, this literature review was undertaken to determine what current research have been conducted on the topic. Stringer holds the review and analysis of literature sets the stage for a later process in which official and academic viewpoints are compared and contrasted with research participant perspectives (Stringer, 2007, p.218). In comparing literature to my research I was able to develop a stronger sense of validity between previous research and my own.Literature Review QuestionsResearch QuestionsLiterature Review Questions Key Search Phrases

What are advantages and disadvantages of a dress code?

What advantages and disadvantages does a dress code offer schools? Dress code benefits Disadvantages of dress codes Dress code reform

How does a dress code impact the perception of safety?

How does a dress code make a school safer? Dress codes in schools Violence Gang prevention

How does the dress code impact the learning environment?

How does a dress code impact the learning environment? Dress code and learning environment School Climate Equality

How does the dress code impact families?

What impact does a dress code have upon families? Dress codes and families Low-Income Communities

Literature Search ProceduresI originally started off my research using a Google search. After a basic search, I realized that there were few quality resources that I could use to include in my research. Many were not research based, while others had to be paid for. From that point on, I began to search for articles using academic based library systems such as ERIC and JSTOR. I also used Google Scholar occasionally to conduct some research as well. Another method I used was taking authors, articles and key words from the bibliographies of references. For example, I was able to come away with the key search word of dress code reform which led to me other themes. Using this technique eventually led me to some of the key references that I used in my research. I began my search looking for resources surrounding urban Middle School dress codes in particular. However, the results produced the overarching theme of dress codes spanning across various grade levels. I decided to broaden my search by focusing on the impacts of a school dress code and uniforms. For each literature review research question, I used key words that are listed the matrix listed above. In an effort to organize my questions, sources and information I created a basic chart to track common themes and ideas. I then transferred the common themes and ideas to a mind map by listing the information on Creating and posting emerging themes on the mind map helped me to really think about how certain themes connect and reinforce one another. Employing these methods within the research allowed me to access 8 quality peer reviewed articles.Literature Review FindingsPerception of School SafetyDress codes serve several purposes, among them is in an attempt to create a stronger perception of safety within schools. From the aspect of safety, dress codes are instituted to prevent the noticeable presence of gang activity and other dangerous behaviors such as bullying and sexual harassment. Proponents of school dress codes hold the common belief that reforming a dress code to prohibit dress of this type will reduce exposure of students to intimidating behaviors and help create a more civil school climate (Studak & Workman, 2007, p.24). Proponents also hold that placing students into a predictable daily routine encourages acceptable behaviors. Out of the ordinary negative behaviors and appearance cues should trigger further observation and investigation to determine if there is a threat to the safety of a student, group of students, or to school property (Studak & Workman, 2007, p.25). However, dress codes undeniably en