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.

  • Navigating the Gaze: Young People's Intimate Knowledge with Surveilled Spaces at School

    Author:
    Patricia Krueger
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Nicholas Michelli
    Abstract:

    The 1980s introduced numerous state and federal policies that created a similar ideology of discipline and punishment in the educational system and the criminal justice system, a phenomenon known today as the school-to-prison pipeline. Several critical elements are involved in the production and maintenance of the school-to-prison pipeline, such as zero tolerance regulations, surveillance technologies, and strengthened in-school discipline practices. In this dissertation I argue that these elements of the pipeline maintain a strong presence and occupy the physical spaces of public schools. Moreover, surveillance cameras and police officers are most often installed in the cities' most under-resourced public schools, and poor, immigrant and students of color are most likely to attend these same schools. In this study I describe the research process of the youth participatory action research collective called Student Supporting Action Awareness formed for this study. Collectively, we document how students navigate through the surveilled spaces of some of New York City public high schools. Through spatial examination and analysis of our citywide youth survey, as well as youth researchers' written and visual narratives, this mixed method participatory action research interrogates the social fabric as produced by dominant social institutions, and it investigates how the criminalization of youth affects student academic motivation and resourcefulness. This study selects methodologies from education, environmental and social psychology, but also relies on critical theory, political economy, and participatory action research to document student narratives, their perceptions of space and place, and their lifeworlds amidst intensified school policing procedures. The data analysis in this dissertation is inspired by the work of geographers Cindi Katz, Henri Lefebvre, and especially by Edward Soja and his theoretical framework of "Third Space" to situate young people's lifeworlds within the constantly redefined, restructured and reshaped spaces at urban public schools. The concluding chapter challenges mainstream epistemologies of the school-to-prison to reframe and change the discourse, research, policy and practices concerning school safety. The last chapter also provides considerations for data analysis, research methods 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.

  • 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.

  • Urban Students in Suburban Schools: A Dialectic of Potential

    Author:
    Amy Moran
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Jean Anyon
    Abstract:

    City-to-suburb migration has been a leading cause of suburban diversification over the last fifty years. However, the impact of this transition on urban student migrants and the nature of their experiences in suburban schools as youth from the urban diaspora have gone underexplored. This dissertation addresses the processes of suburbanization that urban students undergo when transitioning to a suburban high school, the institutional patterns of reception and rejection they experience within a suburban school upon arrival, and the ways in which those patterns of reception and rejection lead to student attitudes and behaviors that exemplify both engagement with and disengagement from the suburban school habitus. Qualitative research methods with a focus on ethnography and participatory research were primarily used to study a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diversified high school in a northern New Jersey suburb of New York City. Central to the data collection and resulting policy suggestions was the Transitions Project, an on-going focus group of urban student co-researchers who, themselves, had recently transferred to this suburban high school from various communities in nearby New York City. The data show that receptive elements such as an engaging school environment, supportive peers and teachers, interest-based and leveled course content, and a visible connection between schooling and one's dreams for the future, as well as plentiful extra-curricular options, authentic advisement, dedicated participation, and holistic extra-curricular recruitment allowed incoming urban students to become engaged within the suburban school culture. However, various elements of suburban school culture that served to reject incoming urban students led to their consequent academic and extra-curricular disengagement. These data illuminate the ways in which the unexamined, intersubjective, and dialectical relationship between urban students and a suburban school impacts the school's capacity to be a successful transmitter of social capital to its urban student newcomers. Furthermore, the suburban school achievement gap eradication narrative will only be as effective as the extent to which suburban schools critically examine the policies and practices that receive and reject incoming students from the urban diaspora.

  • Think Tank Metrics and Schooling: Implications of Current Education Reform Policy for Democratic Education

    Author:
    Donal Mulcahy
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Phillip Anderson
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I examine the role of school in society today. Who is determining that role, and what impact are current reforms having on schooling for democracy? Are the needs of the people and the workings of democracy being prioritized or are other goals prioritized even to the detriment of democracy? To engage this question, I examine some of the leading figures in what I term the standards reform movement, and their arguments in support of current standards reform efforts. In particular, I focus on the work of Chester Finn and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Foundation. Since serving under President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Education, William Bennett--co-founder of the Project for the New American Century--Finn has been part of a push that initiated the current trend towards centralized, standardized and results based accountability for schools. He is inextricably linked to the re-envisioning of the federal role in education that emerged at that time. Along with other think tanks such as the Broad Foundation, the Bradley Foundation and individuals such as Steven Adamowski and Arne Duncan, Finn represents the position that rigid national standards and government control of school curricula will lead to the kind of schooling this country needs. My research contextualizes the current standards movement within a historical framework and assesses the social implications of standardization. This context includes considering the thinking of early reformers such as John Philbrick and David Snedden, and scholars such as John Dewey. I apply a critical pedagogy critique to current proposals for school reform policy to better identify structures of power and knowledge production inherent in these reforms. In doing so, I draw on the scholarship of Ira Shor, Joe Kincheloe, Jean Anyon, David Berliner, William Domhoff and others. As part of my critical methodology, I further evaluate how the contemporary media driven public sphere is targeted by reformers and politicians as an arena to both garner support for their proposals and suppress opposition. Ultimately, I consider whether standards reform may better enable or hinder schools to serve students and a democratic society.

  • Transforming Liberal Education Through The Imagination: Critical-Creative Thinking In Higher Education Curriculum And Pedagogy

    Author:
    Karla Odenwald
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Philip Anderson
    Abstract:

    THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK ABSTRACT TRANSFORMING LIBERAL EDUCATION THROUGH THE IMAGINATION: CRITICAL-CREATIVE THINKING IN HIGHER EDUCATION CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY By Karla Odenwald Advisor: Professor Philip M. Anderson Taking the work of Maxine Greene and Elliot Eisner as a point of departure, this dissertation will argue that the general education college curriculum today needs to be seriously re-examined and re-evaluated if we are to provide students with the education they need. Students require a curriculum which gives more weight to the arts and humanities, one that will recognize, expand, and develop the cognitive, philosophical, and ethical dimensions of learning. The argument will be made for the implementation of a transformative model of education for the 21st century, one that will recognize young people as multi-dimensional human beings, who can and need to develop multi-modal sensibilities through the releasing of both their intellect and imagination as they strive towards a more fulfilling life and a more just world. It will be argued that the general education curriculum should work to enable students to think both rationally and aesthetically, leading to a more comprehensive education. It is proposed to achieve this end through the introduction of a new, merged form of thinking, critical-creative thinking. The argument will be made that this type of thinking can be cultivated both through the inclusion of more arts and humanities courses in the curriculum as well as through the implementation of teaching methods conducive to the development of critical-creative thinking.

  • Critical Connections: Technology Use That Empowers

    Author:
    Kate O'Hara
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Joe Kincheloe
    Abstract:

    This research employs the use of narrative and auto-ethnography in an examination of the complex relationships that arise when students and teachers use technology as an instructional tool. The story unfolds in an exploration of the significant impact and implications the use of computers and related technologies have on educational and societal spheres. This narrative, drawing from personal experiences in the secondary New York City classroom, also references existing published quantitative and qualitative research that exemplifies the use of technology in urban educational settings. Within a theoretical, hermeneutical framework, and couched in social theory and critical theory, the empowering potential of effective technology use by students and teachers is discussed throughout as well.

  • USING COGENERATIVE DIALOGUE TO AFFORD THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF BIOLOGY IN AN URBAN HIGH SCHOOL

    Author:
    Femi Otulaja
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    Abstract The body of research work presented in this dissertation integrates critical ethnography with video and conversation analyses in order to provide ways to articulate and understand the complexities associated with social life enactment as it unfolds during cogenerative dialogues and in the science classroom as the teacher and her students engage in science teaching and learning. The primary goal is to improve the teaching and learning of science in an urban science classroom at a public high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In order to understand what is going on in the classroom and why, I worked with a female science teacher who identify as an African-American and her culturally diversified students in a biology class to examine teacher's and students' conscious and unconscious patterned actions, (i.e., classroom practices, that structure teaching and learning in the classroom. It is my belief that to improve science teaching and learning in the classroom, it is salient to improve science teacher's practices as a precursor to transforming students' practices. In order to ameliorate breaches in the fluency of encounters in the classroom, the teacher and her students need to establish and sustain critical, collaborative and collective conversations through cogen. I employ theoretical lenses of cultural sociology that I triangulate with sociology of emotions and critical pedagogy. I focus on culture as schemas and associated practices layered with the triple dialectics of agency, passivity and structure as new or hybridized/interstitial cultures that are produced get enacted in the science classroom to transform teacher's and her students' encounters with each other. The salient implication is that since encounters are imbued with emotions, teacher and her students learn to generate positive emotional energy during cogen that gets reproduced and transformed in the science classroom. Positive emotional energy creates resources that help to initiate and sustain interaction ritual chains that support synchrony, solidarity, sense of affiliation and identity that are necessary for the teacher to be successful as a science teacher and her students to be successful as science learners. Salient to the findings in this study is the need for teachers to envision teaching and learning as a collaborative and collective endeavor with their students. Teachers need the perspectives of others; and students are in the best position to provide the teacher with the authentic perspectives she needs to improve her practice. By being with and working with their teacher, students and teacher share their classroom experiences with each other, in an environment void of hegemony, in order to achieve their individual goals and collective motives in the urban science classroom. Teacher and her students get to know more about each other socially and culturally and are able to work through their differences to achieve success.

  • Two Tales of One City: A Political Economy of the New York City Public High School Admissions Process

    Author:
    Madeline Perez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Jean Anyon
    Abstract:

    Increased choice about which public school to attend is advocated by policy makers as a strategy for urban education reform and for improving school quality (Fuller & Elmore, 1996). This strategy cannot be effective if only families who already have multiple educational options are able to utilize these opportunities. This dissertation addressed the process of NYC Public High School Admissions and how this is experienced differently by families and school staff across race and class lines. This study utilized a multi-sited qualitative approach with a focus on ethnography and interviews to study two middle schools. Questionnaires were also used to gain a larger picture of how families experienced school choice. Central to the research design and analysis was MADRES, an advisory group of mothers of color who, themselves, has recently undergone the high school application process with their own children. The data show that families' familiarity and comfort level with navigating the school system was linked to class-based experiences and the resources and support they received from their middle school. Parents' ability to intervene effectively in a way in which their actions influenced the school applications process was shaped by the social, cultural, and economic capital that they had been provided or denied. The Department of Education often misrecognized families' capital for competence and caring about their children's education. Middle Schools were the most important link between eighth-grade families and the high school admissions process, and their ability to support families heavily relied on the amount of resources, time and expertise that staff members have available. Moreover, the political economy creates the conditions in which the DOE is dependent on white middle-class families for their dominant capital, and caters to them without seeming to do so. The data illuminate what it is like to navigate a system that is already set up to privilege those who already have resources. Ultimately, high school admissions will only fulfill its espoused theory of ensuring choice and equity when educational administrators cease to operate a process that serves a majority of low-income people of color based solely on white middle-class assumptions and redesign appropriately.