Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • 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.

  • From the BX to a BA: Latino Male Students and the Transition from High School to College

    Author:
    Alejandro Carrión
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ofelia García
    Abstract:

    This study aims to provide a counter narrative to the deficit filled discourse surrounding Latino males by informing teachers, policymakers and researchers of the barriers and resources encountered by this population as they make the transition from high school to college. A qualitative research design was utilized for this study, which focused on 10 Latino males who mainly identified as Puerto Rican and Dominican, from the Bronx. Bourdieu's Theory of Practice, and his theoretical tools of field (structures), habitus (dispositions) and capital (social, cultural and economic), was used as the theoretical framework guiding this study. Participants shared the nuances of the college transition, which required them to negotiate various fields. Their interactions with the fields of the Bronx, school, and family provided messages and capital concerning college that either aligned or detoured their habitus toward college. These fields, at times, created "physical barriers" to accessing college such a lack of financial aid and inadequate schooling. But the fields also provided a layer of barriers which lived in the discourse and messages they received about college. This discourse informed the students' habitus which constructed a "college imagination" that perceived institutions of higher education as a dark, lonely place where no one would care for them. Moreover students discussed how teachers tried to "scare them straight" with a "caring" discourse that attempted to align their academic actions and behaviors towards what teachers envisioned as more appropriate for college "survival" and "success". Many of the participants were able to navigate issues around masculinity and academic unpreparedness to "successfully" transition to college by leaning on the support they received from their peers, college counselors, and their mothers. Ultimately the majority of the participants were able to navigate the college transitions through their habitus, which was aligned to interpreting college as a natural step in their life's journey.

  • 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.

  • Policy Partners in the Neoliberal Age: Corresponding School and Prison Reforms Since 1970

    Author:
    Jeremy Benson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ira Shor
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a comparative policy study of changes in education and incarceration of the past 40 years. Following national and global trends, New York City saw public school and carceral policies converge as the city experienced massive deindustrialization and governmental cutbacks while its political economy shifted to one driven by finance, investment, real estate, and the growth of a low-wage service sector. These changes dramatically increased economic inequality across racial lines, and spurred the intimate linkage of public education and state incarceration as institutional tools for the mass management of low-income communities of color. Following from a growing policy debate in education and criminal justice around the "school-to-prison pipeline," this study analyzes the emergence and structure of correspondence in these two major social sectors. This multiscalar research draws on critical policy analysis and critical discourse analysis to examine federal and state policy vis-à-vis case studies of local charter school and drug court reforms. Findings include correspondence in the implementation of data-driven managerial practices and representations, the extension of private nonprofit and foundation influence on policy, and the (re)production and circulation of what Melamed (2006) terms official antiracisms- knowledge systems which deracialize inequality on the one hand, while constructing neoliberal subject positions amenable to racialized processes of disinvestment, dispossession, and discipline on the other.

  • IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT IN PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS WHO ARE EXPLAINERS IN A SCIENCE CENTER: DIALECTICALLY DEVELOPING THEORY AND PRAXIS

    Author:
    Preeti Gupta
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates how teaching in a hands-on science center contributes to re/shaping one's teaching identity. Situated at the New York Hall of Science (NYHS) in Queens, New York, my research approach is to conduct a critical ethnography where the focus is on improving the teaching and learning of science for all involved. In particular, Explainers, floor staff at NYHS, who are studying to be science teachers, are invited to become co-researchers with me. Written as a manuscript style, this dissertation consists of six chapters. Each chapter foregrounds certain events and phenomena, and theory and method are woven in to theorize identity construction. Grounded in cultural sociology, the frameworks of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), and the sociology of emotions, illuminate key understandings about the construction of teaching identity. Multiple data sources including field notes, transcribed audio and videotapes, and cogenerative dialogues are used. I employ a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to data analysis. This research has salient implications for museum-university partnerships, and training for museum floor staff and has the potential to inform policy-making for pre-service teaching clinical fieldwork experiences.

  • SCIENCE IDENTITY TRANSFORMATIONS THROUGH PLACE-BASED TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE NATURAL WORLD

    Author:
    Amy DeFelice
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Jennfer Adams
    Abstract:

    This dissertation includes three main components related through a sociocultural lens of identity transformation. The first component describes the Field Studies program for ninth grade students at Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment (BASE High School), and explores how outdoor settings and place-based pedagogies can be used to enhance urban students' science identities. Student researchers took digital photographs of their Field Studies experiences and met in cogenerative dialogues with me, their teacher, where we shared our reflections. The second component explains students' experiences and reactions to a week-long place-based geoscience program held over spring break at Prospect Park. This program was offered to BASE students through the Opportunities to Enhance Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG) National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to Brooklyn College. Student researchers completed pre and post surveys, participated in focus groups, and wrote written reflections in their science journals to reflect upon their experiences completing authentic science research projects with undergraduate students and college faculty. Survey results were paired with students' journal responses to understand students' science identity transformations. The third component focuses on a case study that emerged from the Field Studies research. The dialogues between a female Caribbean American high school student and myself, a female white science teacher, are explored using the lenses of critical race theory and identity to focus on themes of stereotyping, whiteness, and science interests. This research adds to the body of knowledge describing how outdoor settings and place-based pedagogies can be used to increase urban students' interest in science. Additionally, this research investigates how in multicultural urban schools it is important for teachers to understand not only their students of color, but their own identities, and the relationships between them, in order to appropriately support their students' interests and desires to enter Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

  • 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.

  • 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 Transform the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics in Urban High School

    Author:
    Samuel Jackson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    This dissertation focuses on improving the teaching and learning of mathematics in urban schools for African-American and minority students. My students played important roles as co-researchers in this two years ethnographic study conducted in a Queens, New York high school in which I employed cogenerative dialogue and coteaching as the two central research methods for connecting with students socially, culturally, and academically as I believe in a polyphonic and polysemic characterization of our classroom experiences. This is central in understanding how African-American and minority students interact, construct knowledge, and experience learning in urban schools. As such, different theories were utilized at different times to make sense of our practices and understandings as new outcomes are produced, as the study progressed. At the same time, my identity along with students' identities was constantly being transformed by our experiences in the classroom. At different stages of the research, our changing focus, ontology and epistemology dictated the theoretical method that was employed.

  • 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.