Circle time check-ins in secondary schools: a classroom approach to improving students’ social responsibility

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Zimmer, Carmen M.E.
The purpose of this study was to add to the field of research on circle time use in secondary schools and on the use of Circle Time Check-Ins in secondary schools for creating a sense of belonging and improving students’ social and emotional skills. The author hoped her research would also provide motivation for other educators to explore how circle process can benefit students of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds. The author’s personal interest in creating a more welcoming environment for students in secondary school and to promote positive interactions between students was a motivating factor in the creation of this study. Additionally, finding research that supported the circle as a successful method for teaching and developing social and emotional skills in elementary students and for build belonging in college and university students, and further research which demonstrated the positive relationship between peer acceptance, friendships, and future academic achievement were other factors that strengthened the author’s interest in examining Circle Time Check-Ins. This quantitative study investigated the degree to which a class of Grade 8 students’ reported social responsibility levels improved after participating in weekly Circle Time Check-Ins. Student participants completed a survey to measure their levels on the construct of ‘social responsibility’ before and after the 8-session treatment period. Results indicated that although some students’ scores improved, the treatment did not result in a meaningful improvement for the majority of students. Factors that may have had an effect on the results of this study such as the frequency and content of the discussions, facilitator confidence, and other external factors that could have influenced the students’ responses are discussed. Limitations to this study including its purely quantitative nature are addressed, and suggestions for future researchers and secondary educators are presented.
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