Research Proposal: Block Scheduling JOHNSO62

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Block Scheduling


The use of block scheduling is an increasingly popular alternative to more traditional eight period school days for high school students. The theory upon which this shift is based is that students will be better able to prepare for classes which are fewer in number but longer in period length. In practice this new method of scheduling, featuring longer but fewer classes, has resulted in increased test scores on written tests but in one instance poorer test scores on the written portion of a high school exit exam. It is important to understand the manner in which such scheduling can be maximized to not only maintain the existing observed increase in standardized test scores but also to increase the scores on written exams.

Table of Contents

Problem to be investigated

A. Purpose of the study

B. Justification of the study

C. Research question and null hypothesis

D. Definition of Terms

E. Brief overview of the study

Background and review of related literature

A. Theory


A. Description of the research design

B. Description of the sample

C. Description of the instruments used

D. Explanation of the procedures followed

E. Discussion

IV. References

The effective utilization of class times in middle and high school is an essential function of administrators and those studying academic outcomes of said students. A traditional class day features between seven and eight 45 minute class periods per day. This requires students to prepare for up to eight diverse subjects every day. The prevailing research indicates that this division of attention results in less effective studying methods and students are less able to attend successfully to individual subjects. A block scheduled day features approximately four classes each of which is approximately 90 minutes in length. This staggered scheduling akin to that employed in university settings may allow students to focus more effectively on their classes resulting in more positive educational outcomes.

Problem to be investigated

Maximizing the potential educational outcome for high school students is an important part of educational research. Block scheduling though shown to have detractions may be a system which is more effective than the one currently employed. This study will determine the overall applicability of block scheduling to middle and high schools nationwide.

Purpose of the study

The overall standardized test scores in the United States have been falling significantly in the last ten years. The use of more effective scheduling and teaching strategies may result in a reversal of the observed trend. This reversal would be essential in raising the matriculation rate of high school students to higher education as well as increasing the length of time those individuals typically spend in those programs.

Justification of the study

The improvement of educational outcomes is an area of research into which millions of dollars are expended yearly. A more effective class scheduling system requiring no financially significant change to schools may allow those funds to be used for other things, as well as improving the overall educational outcomes of American teenagers.

Research Question & Null Hypothesis

The research question for this study is two part. First it must be conclusively established that block scheduling is an effective method of significantly improving the educational outcomes of American high school students. Then it must be established whether or not block scheduling is a concept which can be applied successfully to schools nationally. The existing hypothesis for this study is that block scheduling is an effective and nationally applicable means of improving educational outcomes for high school students. The null hypothesis accordingly is that block scheduling will have no significant impact on the educational outcomes of American high school students, and that it will not be able to be applied to schools nationally.

Operational Definitions

Traditional Scheduling- An eight period class day featuring at least 6 different subjects

Traditional Period- 45 minute lesson on a specific subject

Block Scheduling- A four period class day featuring at most 4 different subjects

Block- A class period lasting approximately 90 minutes on a specific subject

Educational Outcome- the results of the standardized test used in the assessment of the two scheduling methods

Longitudinal Study- a study in which the same group is assessed at different points in time

Pre / Post test- the same group is tested before and after the experimental condition has been applied

Brief overview of study

This study is comprised of two discrete parts. The first will be an extensive review of existing literature regarding the relative efficacy of block scheduling in comparison to traditional scheduling. There is extensive existing research including empirical studies so it will be reasonable to rely on the cumulative findings of said studies in the conduction of this study. The second part of this study is one which requires national accommodation. A cross section of American high schools would be asked to implement block scheduling for one half of the school year, and then traditional schooling for the second half of the year. The schools will be asked to implement this scheduling across all grades. Further, within school districts half of the schools will be randomly assigned to implement block scheduling for the first two marking periods, and the other half will be assigned to a condition in which they implement the block scheduling in the second half of the year. The efficacy of the scheduling will be compared internally through the administration of national standardized tests (PSAT) or (SAT) dependent on grade level. The tests will be administered upon completion of the second marking period of each half of the year. Tests will be from one year prior to the year of testing so as not to interfere with the validity of the existing test.

Background & Literature Review


The premise of this study is to investigate the relative efficacy of block scheduling over traditional scheduling. Block scheduling utilizes fewer classes and subjects per day on the premise that students will be able to better attend to their subjects because they will have longer instruction on a single topic and more preparation time (Gruber & Onwuegbuzie, 2001). This is a strategy which has been implemented effectively in University and Junior College settings internationally (Evans, Tokarcyzk, & McCray, 2002). When students are forced to prepare for many subjects at the same time it is impossible while maintaining additional activities to be as fully prepared as they could be (Gruber & Onwuegbuzie, 2001).

Fewer subjects in a single day are a means not only of focusing students but also of ensuring that they are not overloaded with work. Too often in the pursuit of college attractiveness high school students take on too much work, as a result there has been a sharp increase in the incidence of depressive and anxiety-based disorders (Jenkins, Queen, & Algozzine, 2002). Aside from the apparent health risks, there is the additional reality that when asked to learn about a great diversity of subjects it will be impossible for the information to be stored effectively which may also negatively affect a student's educational outcome (Evans, Tokarcyzk, & McCray, 2002).

The rapid cycling through subjects though useful in studying specific concepts is not effective in the acquisition and long-term retention of information (Gruber & Onwuegbuzie, 2001). Information is stored most effectively when it is thoroughly explained then allowed to be absorbed over a period of time before more information on the same subject is added (Evans, Tokarcyzk, & McCray, 2002). The continual addition of new information ultimately results in the retention of all information relating to that topic in short-term memory. If however students are allowed to hear the information then rehearse it in their own time they are more likely to remember it. This information is in direct support of the block scheduling method.

Students react poorly to assignments which are not substantive (Gruber & Onwuegbuzie, 2001). These types of assignments are useful benchmarks of attending during class as well as an ability to synthesize and utilize the information presented in useful ways. However, the brevity of traditional class periods necessitates that the information presented in class is significantly less in depth than would facilitate a meaningful understanding of the concepts or subject presented (Evans, Tokarcyzk, & McCray, 2002). With more substantial time between subjects, students not only have an opportunity to better retain the information but also they will be able to complete assignments which are not simply benchmarks but meaningful applications of concepts covered. Students work most effectively when they perceive that their instructors respect them as well as their time (Gruber & Onwuegbuzie, 2001). Shifting the focus of assignments and even class lectures from working towards specific quantifiable bench marks, to genuinely understanding concepts will represent a much more effective and mutually respectful learning experience.


Description of Research Design

The design will be a longitudinal within groups design featuring a pre-post test which is randomized. The Students will act as self-control in that all groups of students will experience both conditions of the set. The order in which the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Proposal:

APA Format

Block Scheduling JOHNSO62.  (2010, July 17).  Retrieved June 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Block Scheduling JOHNSO62."  17 July 2010.  Web.  20 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Block Scheduling JOHNSO62."  July 17, 2010.  Accessed June 20, 2019.