Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Jackie Ramey

Second Advisor

Dr. Roger "Mitch" Nasser Jr.

Third Advisor

Dr. Shawn Poyser


According to the US. Department of Labor, 1991, the United States education has shifted the focused to student performance and academic success (NCEE, 2006). School districts across the nation have increased students’ academic demands, including increased academic instruction time, while the allotted time for recess and academic breaks continuously decrease, significantly impacting the school day’s structure (Brusseau & Hannon, 2015; Ginsburg et al., 2007; Stonehill et al., 2011). However, research asserted that instructional time increase does not significantly impact student achievement. In contrast, the increase of academic instruction time could stimulate behavioral problems and sedentary behaviors, while the continuous decrease of recess time could, as cited by Stapp and Karr, p. 22, “be detrimental to students’ physical activity levels, social development, and academic achievement” (McManus et al., 2015; Thapa et al., 2013). Taking purposeful, frequent breaks from academics is an essential part of the school day for students; conversely, schools’ primary focus is improving scores and increasing academic rigor, rather than teaching and enriching the whole child (Ramstetter et al., 2010; Dewey, 1938). The qualitative study was initiated to gain elementary teacher perception regarding the impact breaks have on student engagement. The study’s design included the instrumentation of a researcher-created teacher survey and classroom observations in the elementary setting. The survey and classroom observation data were analyzed through an inductive and deductive data analysis process, by forming reasonable themes through coding the data collections and verifying theme validity through an analysis of the supporting data under each theme (Burkholder et al., 2020; Creswell & Creswell, 2018). The data analysis of the teacher survey and classroom observations indicated a positive association between student breaks and student engagement behaviors, specifically after a break. Elementary teacher effectiveness plays a crucial role in student engagement, including implementing appropriate classroom-based breaks at the appropriate time. The culmination of qualitative data indicated that breaks between scheduled recess breaks are essential for student engagement stamina and decreasing distracting behaviors. The study and prior research align, as elementary students must receive frequent, adequate, and appropriate breaks throughout the school day (Barr-Anderson et al., 2011; Ramstetter & Murray, 2017; Yogman et al., 2018).


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