Date of Award



© 2016 Renée Thompson

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Ella Benson

Second Advisor

Peter Harrison

Third Advisor

Michelle Collay


Research from data and anecdotal research from high school students informs us that many traditional high schools are not able to meet the academic, as well as the social and emotional needs of all students, particularly marginal students. The purpose of this research study was to determine how high schools may support marginal students in achieving success by the implementation of teacher self-efficacy and a positive classroom environment. In addition, the research will articulate the critical role of teachers and how their impact shapes the future of their students. The research questions posed will identify what interventions and strategies teachers may implement to establish a positive classroom environment and whether or not a positive classroom environment will keep most marginal students in a traditional high school setting. The literature review included the research and application of the following relevant themes associated with supporting the needs of marginal students: 1) a positive learning environment, 2) the teacher’s role, 3) teacher efficacy, 4) collective efficacy, 5) Responsive Classroom and 6) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The conceptual framework of this study was crafted by Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, which is based upon the theory that learning occurs from observing others. Social Cognitive Theory describes learning as being shaped by three factors, Cognitive (personal), Environmental and Behavioral. These three factors complement one another to create balance. I used both qualitative and quantitative research designs. The first method of gathering data was in the form of a teacher efficacy survey (quantitative), which was used to determine areas of strength in teacher efficacy as well as areas needing additional support in efficacy. The second method of gathering data was observing five video-taped classrooms (qualitative). The specific purpose of the classroom observations was to closely and accurately view and document the interactions between the teacher and students to gather evidence of a positive classroom environment. Results from the Teachers’ Sense of Self-Efficacy Survey revealed 66% of the teachers responding (16:39) indicating a sense of self-efficacy, believing they have some influence, quite a bit of influence or a great deal of influence. Survey results also revealed that teachers who took the survey believe they are able to control their classroom management and instruction better than engaging with students and/or keeping students engaged. The classroom observations provided extensive evidence on characteristics that define a positive classroom environment. These include, but are not limited to: 1) teachers speaking in a calm tone, 2) using positive language, 3) being willing to work longer with struggling students, 4) providing explicit instructions, and 5) evidence of enjoying being with their students, such as smiling and laughing. Conclusions of the research study suggest that communication with parents may create anxiety for teachers. In addition, most teachers who took the survey display some teacher efficacy and the classroom observations validate that teacher-efficacy and positive classrooms will meet the academic, social and behavioral needs of most students. I recommend: 1) colleges offer teacher-efficacy in their educational courses, 2) schools consider the idea of a full implementation of Collective Efficacy school wide, 3) high schools explore the possibility of embedding the philosophy of the Responsive Classroom model, and 4) schools identify characteristics of teacher-efficacy and a positive classroom environment, both of which provide evidence of improving and increasing the success of marginal students and keeping the students in a traditional high school.


Ed.D. Dissertation