Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Creating Collaborative Partnerships to Support Teacher Growth: Mapping the Partnership Process

    Author:
    Lynda Kennedy
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Philip Anderson
    Abstract:

    The urban setting has tremendous resources for the support of teaching and learning social studies and history but many teachers do not know how to make use of them. Collaborations centered on teacher professional development between cultural institutions such as museums, historical societies, historic houses, libraries, etc., universities and k-12 schools can create wider communities of practice that can support the professional growth of history and social studies teachers from their pre-service education throughout their careers. This qualitative case study - grounded in the social/historical context of teacher education and a century of history/social studies pedagogy both in school and cultural settings - examines the process of learning to collaborate as it was undertaken by a group of five institutions, each with its own distinct organizational culture. Organizational theory is used to develop a working definition of what it means to collaborate and highlight the elements that allowed the collaboration to be successful. This study provides a road map for collaboration that can be used by all organizations dedicated to teaching and learning who would like to reach out across the boundaries of their institutions to work together toward the common goal of developing quality teachers and teaching in the urban setting.

  • URBAN MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL LITERACY: A PERFORMATORY APPROACH TO TEACHING, LEARNING AND TECHNOLOGY

    Author:
    Jaime Martinez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    This auto-ethnography describes the development of exemplary teaching practices in the context of an urban middle school technology class with a socially and culturally diverse student population. The teaching practice that was studied was situated in a learning community of approximately 250 middle school students in New York City between 2007 and 2008. This study documents, through the use of vignettes, the development of everyday practices of using performance and technology as tools in the creation of technology infused learning environments that support the cultural literacy and social development of students and increases teacher responsiveness and receptivity to students. This account reveals that a performatory approach to teaching and learning creates an environment where learners become aware that they are learners and encourages risk taking, collaboration, creativity, and individual responsibility for supporting learning environment that is created. When enacted through the framework of cultural historical activity theory (CHAT), the teaching activity concerns itself with the activities that the members of the learning community are engaged in, the social relationships that give rise to and are produced by those activities, the historical development that is taking place, and the role that cultural artifacts (language, computer technology, school policies) play in the creation and development of the learning community. This approach achieved positive impact on teaching and learning within urban school settings that include high population density, cultural diversity and other issues that are specific to urban centers that are focal points in globalization. The study used an ethnomethodological analytic lens to view video taped performances, field notes, and artifacts (student and teacher) as resources in giving accounts, providing rationale, and describing activities, and meanings in learning environments that were created.

  • From Nation-States to Neoliberalism: Language Ideologies and Governmentality

    Author:
    Nelson Flores
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ofelia Garcia
    Abstract:

    Building on Foucault's concept of governmentality this research study examines the ways that current language ideologies marginalize the language practices of language minoritized students. The first half of this study examines the emergence of nation-state/colonial governmentality and its accompanying language ideologies as part of the European modernist project. It examines the emergence of nation-state/colonial governmentality in early US society with a particular focus on the early debates on language policy in the new nation. It then analyzes the impact of nation-state/colonial governmentality on contemporary US society through an exploration of the language ideologies utilized by both sides of the current debate over bilingual education. The second half of this research study engages with recent insights from poststructuralist theory to examine the emergence of neoliberal governmentality and its accompanying language ideologies as part of the spread of global capitalism. It argues that dynamic language ideologies such as those used in the first half of this study reflect new understandings of language that are complicit in the production of flexible workers and life-long learners that lie at the core of neoliberal governmentality. Specifically, this study offers a reading of the concept of plurilingualism developed by the Council of Europe through the framework of neoliberal governmentality and argues that the movement in political and academic circles toward more dynamic understandings of language marks an epistemological shift that is mutually constitutive with the corporatization of society occurring as part of neoliberal governmentality. The study then examines the ways that nation-state/colonial and neoliberal governmentality are begin to converge in contemporary US society in ways that maintain US hegemony within the new global order through three interrelated frameworks: (1) Global English, (2) the securitization of bilingualism, and (3) the commodification of bilingualism. Finally, the study explores implications of the critiques of nation-state/colonial and neoliberal governmentality through a conceptualization of language education policies that subvert both forms of governmentality through language minoritized students in developing meta ethnolinguistic subjectivities. It argues that the fluidity of these subjectivities challenges nation-state/colonial governmentality while the "meta" aspect empowers language minoritized students to resist the corporatization of their fluid language practices.

  • YOUNG PAKISTANI MUSLIM WOMEN'S REFLECTIONS ON DIFFERENCE, FUTURE, AND FAMILY

    Author:
    Sara Zaidi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Stacey Lee
    Abstract:

    This dissertation employs data collected from multiple sites in Southern California over a period of nine months. Several in-depth ethnographic interviews and participant observations were conducted with Pakistani Muslim women (age 17-22) and their parents in an effort to better understand the influence that parents and ethno-religious communities had on their lives, academic choices, and aspirations. This dissertation explores the ways that seemingly paradoxical stereotypes, as members of a model minority and the victims of their parents, Pakistani culture and Islam, have informed the ways young Pakistani Muslim women identify themselves and are identified by others. As the children of immigrants and members of an ethno-religious community consistently marked by difference, I examine the varied and often conflicting ways participants define themselves and the ways they are defined by others through the processes of differentialism. Using a critical reconceptualization of agency, one that delinks the concept of agency from secular progressive politics, this work explores the varied modes of agency embodied by young Pakistani Muslim women. Findings confirm the idea that the lives, experiences and perspectives of immigrant youth are complex and multifaceted and that their identities are always in flux and ever changing. Importantly, this research contradicts the cultural clash theory, which suggests that Pakistani parents are inherently obstructive to their daughter's educational and career goals. This work challenges hegemonic discourses about young Pakistani women that position them as passive recipients of oppressive cultural and religious practices. Findings also complicate our view of agency and choice in relation to young Pakistani Muslim women, deepening our understanding of the roles of parents and ethno-religious communities in the lives of immigrant youth.

  • Death of a Dropout: (Re)Theorizing School Dropout and Schooling as a Social Determinant of Health

    Author:
    Jessica Ruglis
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Nicholas Michelli
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation I posit that schooling is a social determinant of health. Employing a mixed method, participatory action research design, this study examines and offers original theorizing on the ways in which schooling affects educational and health outcomes. This research explores how and why education is the most significant predictor of lifetime health. Grounded in critical race theory, this dissertation spans conceptual frameworks from critical theory, participatory action research, political economy, social and environmental psychology, social epidemiology and public health as a way to understand the relationship that education level has to health. It offers a detailed analysis of the relationship between education and health, the current graduation rate crisis and its historical origins, school dropout and the costs of diploma denial. I describe the research process of the youth participatory action research collective called ProjectDISH (Disparities in Schooling and Health) formed for this study. ProjectDISH created the research questions, methodology, design, protocol and methods of analyses for this mixed-method (mapping, focus groups, and survey) research study. The purpose of our research was to investigate and document the ways in which schooling and health are related, and how racialized urban educational inequities and outcomes correlate with health disparities. Supporting literature and policy suggestions are woven throughout the findings chapters. I end this dissertation by introducing a new theory of school dropout, called school non-completion, as a way to speak back to, reframe and move forward the discourse, research, policy and practices concerning school dropout. The concluding chapter also provides methodological considerations and policy recommendations for this work.

  • Resisting Regulation: LGBTQ Teens and Discourses of Sexuality and Gender in High Schools

    Author:
    Darla Linville
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Jean Anyon
    Abstract:

    This dissertation documents a participatory action research project designed to understand discourses of sexuality and gender in New York City high schools. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students participated as co-researchers in documenting discourses in popular culture, news reports, youth development reports, and through writing exercises about their own experiences. Together researchers created a modified Q sort (the Queer Q Sort) and surveyed a snowball sample of 21 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) high school students about the discourses of sexuality and gender they encounter in their schools and the ways that they accept or reject discourses as they form their identities. In order to imagine other frameworks for understanding sexuality and gender beyond the discourses of safety, victimization, disease and raging hormones, researchers wrote counter-narratives of their experiences that challenge discourses that reference mental health, physical health, pedagogy and morality. Youth researchers created spatial representations of the ways discourses work I the spaces of their schools by drawing maps showing how the movement and behaviors of bodies are regulated. My analysis triangulates the findings of the Queer Q Sorts, the maps and the discussions and writings of the youth researchers to show that young people create alternatives to the official discourses of sex education materials and much of the media coverage of young people and sexuality. I show that young people make ethical decisions about becoming sexual and fashioning their bodies in certain ways to reflect the gender identity and sexual subjectivity they wish to inhabit. Students advocate for queering schools by creating curriculum and pedagogical practices that allow critical analyses of gender and heteronormativity with the goal of helping their peers understand that binary categories are not givens, but rather social constructions we are often forced to perform. Using Foucault's theory and methods, the researchers challenged assumptions about teens as victimized, rebellious, promiscuous or innocent in conversations about sexuality and gender in schools.

  • ACCESS AND ENTRY TO HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY IN NEW YORK CITY

    Author:
    Denise McNamara
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Nicholas Michelli
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to determine quantitatively the impact of various school characteristics on access to and enrollment in high school chemistry in New York City and to identify the issues that may contribute to the inequities in high school education, specifically S.T.E.M. education. The context through which this issue is examined is the restructuring and accountability initiatives that have been underway in New York City public schools as well as the accountability of cohort graduation rates. The issue of social justice and accessibility to high school chemistry was the lens through which this study was conducted. Mixed methodology was used in conducting the research so that a holistic view of the issue could be analyzed. Results indicate that the demographic and socioeconomic status of the students in the school district strongly correlate to the access to chemistry in that district.

  • Real-World Contexts in Urban High School Mathematics Lessons

    Author:
    Andrew Chu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ofelia Garcia
    Abstract:

    This study analyzes the uses of real-world contexts in mathematics lessons in the classrooms of four teachers across two school years at an urban high school. Drawing upon a framework of culturally relevant mathematics pedagogy, this dissertation focuses on how real-world contexts are connected to teaching mathematics for understanding, centering mathematics instruction on students' experiences and classroom participation, and developing students' critical consciousness. Analysis of real-world contexts in lessons focuses on the extent to which they are adapted from curricular sources and the role that lessons play within the lesson. For those real-world contexts which are at the center of a mathematics lesson, the nature of the mathematical modeling in which students engage is analyzed. Finally, the extent to which students and the teacher participate in the process of elaborating key features of the context whether in terms of experiences, perceptions, or opinions, is also considered. These different categories for real-world contexts are then used to compare three different measures of the lesson. These include the cognitive demand of the main mathematical task, different ratings of the instructional environment, and the distribution of class time in terms of the participation categories offered to students. Results point at the promise of real-world contexts as the basis for motivating metaphors to explore noncontextualized mathematical procedures and concepts, the need to structure lessons so that students can develop models rather than apply given models, and the importance of elaboration in supporting student understanding and participation.

  • School Closings and Governance Changes in New York City: The Battle over Equity, Accountability, and Community Engagement Across Shifting Terrain

    Author:
    Liza Pappas
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ofelia Garcia
    Abstract:

    This dissertation describes and captures the contentious politics concerning school closing proposals introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Department of Education (NYCDoE) in years 2010-2011. It analyzes a variety of actors' framings of school closures, as well as respective actions they take to influence policy. Drawing upon interviews, observations, surveys, and documents, this study explores two fundamentally distinct and non-communicative theories of school improvement. The NYCDoE's rationale for school closings is part of a larger school improvement framework built on the pillars of choice, accountability, and a new management and governance structure, what can be understood as neo-decentralization. The Coalition of Educational Justice (CEJ), a parent-led education coalition, challenges the rationale and implementation of school closure policy, and proposes an alternative vision and set of actions for schools to improve. Utilizing interpretative policy analysis (Yanow, 2000) across data and settings helped focus on how the meanings of policies are communicated to and "read" by various constituencies. Analysis revealed a sharp contrast between philosophies and practices promulgated on how schools improve. Other findings point to strategies for those school communities engaged in the phenomenon of school closings, contesting specific school closing proposals or proposing viable alternatives. The central finding of this dissertation is the role that delocalized centralism plays as part of the Portfolio Management Model (PMM), and the challenges it presents to the communities it purports to serve. PMM offers more than a new approach for restructuring the delivery of education services; it remaps the school district into an open marketplace and reshapes schools' relationships to neighborhoods and student and families' relationships to their neighborhood schools. Delocalized centralism extends the notion of decentralized centralism (Karlsen, 2000) by emphasizing the geographical aspects of governance arrangements. Delocalized centralism explains how accountability is removed from local agents, leaving families without actual places to go with their questions and concerns about their children's education. The NYCDoE's new management structure serves a function of conflict management and appears to buffer the Central Office from the needs and input of students, parents, and teachers. The remapping of the school governance terrain poses significant new challenges not only to families, but also for education organizing.

  • Authoring Mathematical Selves

    Author:
    Rachel Lambert
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Wendy Luttrell
    Abstract:

    How do middle school kids develop identifications with mathematics over time, seeing themselves as agents in the figured worlds of their math classrooms (or not)? This ethnographic and interview study followed nine focus Latino/a kids though their sixth and seven grade inclusive mathematics classrooms in a high-poverty urban school. The kids participated in two kinds of mathematical pedagogy that differently constructed ability and disability in mathematics. Individual kids constructed unique self-understandings as math learners over time, using the cultural resources of multiple figured worlds (mathematical, social, special education, friendship). Most of the focus kids used conceptions of competence forged in memorization to understand themselves as learners who either get it fast or struggle slow. Other kids used alternative conceptions of competence such as persistence and creativity in mathematics. Kids narrated the critical importance of relationships and emotions in their experiences in mathematics classes.