Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Martha Moore


The transition to middle school is often associated with negative effects on academic achievement, motivation, self-esteem, and psychological well-being. Educators at a Grade 6 through 8 middle school in the northeastern United States observed students struggle with the adjustment to middle school. Research suggests that developmentally responsive schools can significantly reduce the potential negative impact of middle school adjustment. Drawing upon developmental theories from the works of individuals such as Piaget, Erikson, and Maslow, the purpose of this single-case study was to capture the opinions, thoughts, and perceptions of the students transitioning into middle school to better understand how they perceived their developmental needs were supported and where additional support was necessary in order to facilitate a smoother transition to middle school. Three focus group interviews, one for each sixth grade team, were conducted. Additional data were obtained by reviewing anonymous student writing samples completed for the school's transition team. Both data sets were analyzed by applying a typological analysis process. Data analysis indicated students believed the transition programs effectively oriented them to procedural aspects of middle school; however, students expressed the need for additional academic and social-emotional support as their first year of middle school progressed. Findings guided the development of a facilitator's guide for student support groups wherein additional academic and social-emotional assistance can be provided to students in transition. Implications for social change include a proactive program that promotes student achievement and positive social-emotional development.