Winter 2021

ESRP 9000 Professor

Melissa T. Sasso

ESRP 9001 Professor

Dana Mills

Executive Summary

This strategic research project was designed to investigate strategies to increase student engagement at Newmarket Junior Senior High School, a small 6-12 school in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire. A strategic planning process including SWOT analysis was conducted to identify gaps or areas for growth at the school. Following this process lack of student engagement was found to be the most significant problem to be addressed at the school. Research and evaluation identified four possible solutions to this problem focusing on the pros and cons and potential barriers to each. Implementing student-centered learning practices was selected as the proposed solution to increase student engagement in learning.

Specific strategies for implementing student-centered learning practices were researched with Project Based Learning (PBL) and the Harkness discussion method as the two with the strongest potential to increase student engagement at the school. A QSPM was created to evaluate the potential solutions in terms of their relative attractiveness for the specified setting. Following this evaluation, PBL was chosen for implementation as it not only addressed the issue of student engagement, but also provided opportunities to benefit the school in other ways including improving the instructional program and moving the school towards meeting New Hampshire’s competency-based education initiative. Finally, an action plan for implementation was developed including action steps, a timeline, roles and responsibilities, resources, and processes for evaluation. A key component of this action plan focused on the creation of a teacher cohort who would receive extensive professional development and support beginning in the summer of 2021 and continuing through the 2021-2022 academic year.

Document Type

Strategic Research Project-NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education