A Comparative Study of Block Scheduling and Traditional Scheduling on Academic Achievement
Lawrence, William W., McPherson, Danny D., Journal of Instructional Psychology
This study compared the academic achievement of high school students on the block schedule with the academic achievement of high school students on the traditional schedule. The goal was to determine what impact if any block scheduling would have upon academic achievement.
The sample included secondary students from two high schools in the same school district in the Southeastern region of North Carolina. The four North Carolina End-of Course tests (Algebra 1, Biology, English 1, and U. S. History), which are required of all students who graduate with a diploma, provided the necessary data. T-tests were used to compare the two groups' means for each of the four subject areas to determine if a significant difference existed at the .05 level of significance. The findings revealed that students on the traditional schedule scored significantly higher on the Algebra 1, Biology, English I and U. S. History tests than students on the block schedule.
Since the National Commission on Excellence in Education published its report, A Nation at Risk (1983), Americans have questioned our educational effectiveness. In the 1980's and continuing into the 1990's, school administrators and teachers have been criticized regarding the inefficient and ineffective use of school time.
The National Education Commission on Time and Learning (1994) published a report addressing national concerns regarding allocations of time and use of the school day for instructional purpose. According to the report,
learning in America is a prisoner of time. For the past 150 years, American public schools have held time constant and let learning vary. The rule only rarely voiced is simple: learn what you can in the time we make available. It should surprise no one that bright, hardworking students do reasonably well. Everyone else from the typical student to the dropout - runs into trouble. The degree to which today's American school is controlled by the dynamics of clock and calendar is surprising even to people who understand school operations (National Education Commission on Time and Learning, 1994, p. 7).
Cushman (1989) emphasized that today's secondary schools are designed as though students face the same lifestyles their grandparents did while noticeable differences are obvious. Previously, students learned punctuality, obedience to authorities, and tolerance of repetition,k boredom, and discomfort. During the 18th and 19th centuries, students were trained for farm and industrial work. According to Edwards (1991),judgment, decision-making, creativity, high technological knowledge and independence were neither taught nor expected.
The 1990's called for different thinking, behaviors, and practices. Society and its expectations have changed drastically. Things that were once objectionable are now required such as creativity and technology issues.
In an effort to better meet society's expectations and to make better use of gained knowledge, educators are now focusing on educational restructuring. One such focus has been the school calendar year. Another focus has been the time scheduled for classes. Secondary educators now ask the question, "Does the traditional high school schedule most appropriately meet the instructional demands and expectations of teachers and students?" An even more poignant question emerges- "How does student achievement vary with different class schedules?"
Purposes of the Study
The purpose of this study was to compare the test scores in selected school subjects (Algebra 1, Biology, English I and U. S. History) for students on a traditional class schedule with those on a block schedule.
In the early 1990's, the allocation of instructional time (Edwards. 1991: Canady & Rettig, 1993; and Schoenstein, 1944) has been investigated from different perspectives. Yet, there is a lack of scientific support regarding the effect of block scheduling on student academic achievement. …