Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • 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.

  • ARE BLACK GIRLS THE NEW NUMBER RUNNERS? AN ANALYSIS OF BLACK GIRLS AND HIGH SCHOOL MATHEMATICS

    Author:
    Carolyn KIng
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Juan Battle
    Abstract:

    According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), one out of every 100 employed scientists and engineers in the United States is a Black female. This statistic prompts the examination of Black females and mathematics. How do individual-level (educational aspirations), familial-level (support), and school-level (school characteristics) variables impact Black female students' proficiency in high school mathematics as well as predict their enrollment in postsecondary math courses? Employing four waves from the National Education Longitudinal Study (1988, 1990, 1992, & 1994), this study seeks to add to the discourse on achievement in mathematics by examining factors which impact outcomes in mathematics for a nationally representative sample of Black females. The theoretical framework for this dissertation will include, but not be limited to, social and cultural capital (Bourdieu and Coleman), intersectionality and standpoint (Crenshaw and Collins) theory. Variables from all three levels affected Black females' achievement in high school mathematics. The score on the twelfth grade math exam was significant in predicting the likelihood that a Black female enrolled in a regular mathematics course in a postsecondary institution. The findings from this study will help inform the development of interventions and strategies aimed at increasing the mathematics proficiency of Black females and their enrollment in postsecondary mathematics courses.

  • A Quest for Awareness: Gender-Differentiated English Language Arts Resources and Instructional Techniques to Acknowledge the Needs and Passions of Fourth and Fifth Grade Boys

    Author:
    Todd Feltman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Anthony Picciano
    Abstract:

    A Quest for Awareness: Gender-Differentiated English Language Arts Resources and Instructional Techniques to Acknowledge the Needs and Passions of Fourth and Fifth Grade Boys By Todd Feltman Adviser: Dr. Anthony Picciano A major educational crisis has been transpiring among fourth and fifth grade boys over the last twenty years (Eliot, 2009; Whitmire, 2010). On average, fourth and fifth grade boys, regardless of racial background or socioeconomic class, are performing below girls, both academically in reading and writing. The Center on Educational Policy reports that boys are approximately ten percent behind girls in reading aptitude and standardized reading tests in all fifty states (Claiborne & Siegel, 2010; Carty, 2010; www.cep-dc.org), with boys continuing to lag behind girls in reading achievement in most countries (Newkirk, 2002; Zambo & Brozo, 2009). This dissertation seeks to examine the degree to which the presence or absence of gender-differentiated English Language Arts resources, curriculum and instructional techniques used with fourth and fifth grade boys can help explain the crisis. The focus is not to create gender-neutral classrooms, but rather to acknowledge the academic, psychological and physical needs of boys, therefore producing gender differentiation with coeducational classrooms. This dissertation focuses on fourth and fifth grade boys because they are at the academic stage at which tasks within English Language Arts instruction, such as reading to learn non-fictional information, become more challenging (Zambo & Brozo, 2009; Gurian, Stevens & Daniels, 2009). The methodology employed examines how fourth and fifth grade boys are unintentionally discriminated against within the elementary school classroom based on the use of several Newbery and Caldecott medal-winning books, Treasures text selections, New York State Standardized English Language Arts test reading and listening passages, as well as the common core state standards within reading, writing, speaking and listening. Each of these English Language Arts artifacts was reviewed for gender appeal using a contextual evaluation tool. The findings indicate that even though the literacy resources used within elementary schools largely meet the criteria to appeal to the boyhood culture, awareness by teachers and administrators must be a priority during the selection. The common core state standards were found to be lacking in gender differentiation; therefore I developed boyhood enhancements that would simultaneously support girls. Still, additional factors contributing to this gender achievement gap in literacy of boys must be further researched.

  • Schooled Out: Black male teachers experiences schooling in, teaching and leaving New York City Public Schools

    Author:
    Amber Pabon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ofelia Garcia
    Abstract:

    Black male teachers make up less than 2% of the American public school labor force (Brockenbrough, 2008; Dee, 2005; Lewis, 2007). We know little about their life histories and teaching experiences. This qualitative study draws from concepts on languaging (Garcia, 2006) and African oral tradition (Smitherman, 1977) and life history (McAdams, 2008) and critical race theory. I utilize life history interview methods and narrative analysis to examine the narratives of seven Black male teachers. Former students of urban schools and current teachers in New York City public schools, these "inner-city griots" (Freestyle Fellowship, 1993) speak their truths to power.

  • TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE AT THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: 1990 - 2010

    Author:
    Erin Croke
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Nicholas Michelli
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines demographic changes at The City University of New York (CUNY) between 1990 and 2010, including changes in the age profile and racial/ethnic composition of enrolled undergraduates. Data from the CUNY Institutional Research Database (IRDB) shows the undergraduate student body has changed over the last 20 years. Most undergraduate enrollment growth has occurred in the community colleges, while growth has been more limited in the senior colleges. The number of students age 25 and older declined 12.5 percent in the senior colleges, while remaining stable in the community colleges. The number of Black students declined 15.3 percent over the 20-year period in the senior colleges. Changes at CUNY are partly symptomatic of demographic changes within New York City (NYC), rising NYC high school graduation rates, and the expanding for-profit higher education sector. Low-income, minority, and older students increasingly enroll in for-profit colleges. Data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) shows that student enrollment growth in the for-profit sector vastly outpaced growth in the private and public sectors. While the percentage of older students and Black students has declined at CUNY, there has been substantial enrollment growth of such students in the for-profit sector. CUNY's own policies and practices have also played a role in the sorting of particular student groups across the university. Data from the CUNY Application System (CAS) shows that the number of applicants listing a community college as their first-choice has declined. A stronger preference for the senior colleges has occurred while admissions requirements at the senior colleges have increased and larger proportions of students have instead been allocated to community and comprehensive colleges. Over the study period, CUNY senior colleges showed an increase in the average credentials of allocated students, while the average SAT scores of students allocated to community colleges showed little change.

  • Teachers Working With Families: Natural Enemies or Necessary Allies?

    Author:
    Kirsten Cole
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Susan Semel
    Abstract:

    The complex and crucial connection between families and schools is embodied in relationship between individual teachers and their students' families. Research findings demonstrate that high levels of family engagement lead to greater success for students. Such findings drive policy mandates that hold individual teachers accountable for cultivating this relationship. However, not enough is known about how such mandates are enacted on the ground. In an era when teachers are required to adhere to the standardization of curriculum and the uniform recommendations of "best practice" pedagogic models, teachers must still draw on their whole, complex, human selves when seeking to foster relationships with families. The strengths and challenges that teachers bring to this work are developed throughout their entire life histories; from early family and educational experiences, through pre-service teacher preparation, through mentoring and in-service professional development. This study was framed by a desire to understand how teachers' life and professional experiences shape their approach to working with their students' families. In order to address this question, the life histories of five teachers were gathered, documented, and analyzed to identify and explore the patterns and the tensions in how the teachers made sense of their lives and work. The life history method of research was chosen to address the purpose of this study as it offered the most apt match for illuminating the complexities of how teachers approach their work with families. The teachers selected to participate in this study all worked at the same urban, public, progressive, elementary school whose mission included a vision for a high level of family engagement. In the analysis of the teachers' life histories, issues of language, culture, race, and gender emerged. Analysis of the teachers' stories revealed that teachers' draw on the perspective of their own experiences as they develop strategies for in the very nuanced process of forging relationships with families. Additionally, this study explored the ways that teachers' work with families can be supported or thwarted by the range of conflicting perspectives and policies regarding the impact of the teacher and her knowledge on the practice of teaching.

  • In Their Own Right: Immigrant Adolescents Research the Global City

    Author:
    Daniel Walsh
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Stacey Lee
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this dissertation research project is to explore how recently-arrived immigrant adolescents who are English learners (ELs) experience New York City during an era of unprecedented globalization and neoliberal social and economic policies. It explores immigrant adolescents' experiences in the global city (Sassen, 2001) through a qualitative study that incorporates the tenets of both critical ethnography and participatory action research. The study has two overarching questions: 1. How does the context of the global city shape the conditions of the lives of immigrant adolescents who are learning English? 2. How do they understand and respond to these conditions? To explore these questions, I collaborated with a group of immigrant adolescents who are ELs for one year and assisted them with the design and implementation of their own research projects. Their research questions reflect both their lived experiences as immigrant adolescents in the global city and topics about which they desired to effect change. Such a research design ensured that the co-researchers would receive some degree of reciprocity for their role in the study and that I did not simply "mine" a community for data. Four young women from Haiti, Guinea, Senegal, and Togo completed research projects that addressed the following questions of their own design: 1. What is the nature of cultural, linguistic, and racial conflict at a high school for immigrant youth? 2. How do immigrant students in International and traditional schools feel about their school experiences? 3. How do immigrant adolescent girls negotiate their home culture and culture of the U.S.? 4. How do undocumented high school students negotiate the transition to college and/or work? The nature of their provocative questions is only the beginning of the insight that this study provides into the lives of immigrant adolescents learning English in the global city. The research findings indicate that legalistic notions of citizenship fail to capture the complexity to citizenship and belonging, that cultural identity in global times is hybrid and unresolved, that a discourse of tolerance depoliticizes the nature of inter-group conflict, and that language-in-testing policy has both cultural and economic implications for immigrant youth. In addition to contributing theoretical and methodological insights about immigrant adolescents learning English, these findings have implications for educational pedagogy and policy as well as broader social and economic policies in global cities.

  • Notes from the Blogging Field: Teacher Voice and the Policy-Practice Gap in Education

    Author:
    Kiersten Greene
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Jean Anyon
    Abstract:

    Public education is in crisis. From the proliferation of reforms that support high-stakes testing and one-size-fits-all curricula to the overt privatization of schooling via the charter school movement, the system of public education in the United States is in dire need of repair. However, as many scholars, educators, and students have noted over the last century, public education has often--if not always--been in a state of constant crisis, reform, and hopeful repair. Parents, students, policymakers, and most recently the teachers, have been blamed for the failure of public education, though no viable, long-term solution has been successfully conceived and put into practice as long as there has been public schooling. This dissertation investigates teachers' daily work inside classrooms via blogs written by New York City public school teachers, and posits that 1) teachers, whose work provides the fulcrum around which all activity in a school revolves, have an important critique of policy to offer from the view of the classroom, and should be heard by policymakers; and 2) online spaces, and blogs in particular, provide a new venue by which to hear teachers' voices, which have long been both largely inaccessible due to the isolation inherent in teaching, and silenced by the policymaking process. This project is built on the acknowledgment that policymakers do not often consider teachers' voices in the policymaking process, but also on the hope that if enough voices are heard, they will have no choice but to listen.

  • Transformative Brotherhood: Black Boys' Identity in a Single-sex School for Boys of Color

    Author:
    Joseph Nelson III
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Anthony Picciano
    Abstract:

    This qualitative dissertation is an outgrowth of a multi-site, longitudinal study of single-sex schools for boys of color. Employing a relational case study method for theory development, interviews, observations, and student identity projects were used to explore and describe how a cohort of seven, low-income Black boys construct an intersecting race, class and gender identity within a single-sex middle school for boys of color in New York City.

  • "But what about the other kids?": Linguistic and religious minority youth in a Newcomer high school

    Author:
    Heather Woodley
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ofelia Garcia
    Abstract:

    To meet the academic and social-emotional needs of recently-arrived immigrant youth, Newcomer high schools have been created in many urban areas. In New York City, these schools are often comprised mostly of Spanish-speaking students (ranging from 80-95%) with a small, yet diverse and growing minority of speakers of lesser-used languages who are also a religious minority. While schools often have Spanish-bilingual staff and resources for the dominant Latino population, educators are often left asking, "But what about the other kids?" the Muslim speakers of Bengali, Arabic, Fulani, Wolof, Kotokoli, and even more languages, who share no home languages with school adults. In order to help schools and teachers meet the academic, linguistic, and social-emotional needs of these "other kids," this study explores the school experiences and meaning-making of recently-arrived Muslim immigrant youth in a majority-Spanish-speaking Newcomer high school in the Bronx. Using arts-based pedagogical research, data is drawn from one year of after-school sessions where youth took photography, created social maps, collages, books, and graphic arts pieces to shape and expand on interviews, whole-group discussions, peer interviews, and participant observation. Major findings reveal how youth translanguage (GarcĂ­a, 2009) throughout the school day, using self-regulated, and self-initiated learning, while also expressing value in multilingual learning, but acknowledging that bilingual education is not a privilege afforded to them. While allowed the space for home language learning, these youth are simultaneously experiencing multiple racisms - personal and pedagogical oppression based on differences in language, homeland, and religion. This duality, and ways of making meaning of it, shape youth's complex educational linguistic identities, or their perceptions of how languages should be used in learning. The voices of these youth speak to the needs of educators and schools working with diverse linguistic and religious populations. The ways in which these youth translanguage in their learning, and conceptualize messages articulated by the school, provide new understandings of effective strategies, school structures, and pedagogical practices for teaching emergent bilinguals, recently-arrived immigrants, and religious minority youth. Lessons are also learned from the methodology of this study itself, as an empowering tool for representation, and a way to expand youth's linguistic repertoires and sharing of ideas through art and creative expressions.