Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Teachers at Work: Factors Influencing Satisfaction, Retention and the Professional Well-Being of Elementary and Secondary Educators

    Author:
    Patrick O'Reilly
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Nicholas Michelli
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study has been to explore the question of how factors in the work lives of teachers influence their experience of workplace satisfaction, and how satisfaction influences retention in the teaching profession. This study had three specific goals: (1) to examine whether five specified factors that teachers' encounter as workers influence their professional satisfaction, (2) to explore whether teacher satisfaction influences retention in the profession and (3) to determine whether school level taught plays a role in degrees of satisfaction a teacher experiences. Data was collected over a period of five months, using a survey administered to 133 teachers, and follow-up interviews with 15, ten of whom also took the survey. Analysis indicates that both intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence teachers at their work, that teaching is a demanding profession yet one that evokes significant loyalty among its workers, and that while school level taught does indeed play a role in professional satisfaction, teachers at elementary and secondary levels are most satisfied with their work when intrinsically motivated. Intrinsic motivation is fueled by a love of students, of particular subject areas, and of the teaching profession. External factors, such as mandated testing and teacher performance evaluation systems, seriously erode satisfaction. Teaching is both a highly personal and highly public profession; satisfaction is influenced by the extent to which factors such as school climate and support are oriented to allow for teacher autonomy in the classroom. The value of this study lies in the stories told, both through the survey administration and follow-up interviews, of the daily work-lives of teachers. Teachers are powerful work-agents insofar as they have the ability to shape the lives of succeeding generations. Their success depends on access to resources, appropriate support, and a measure of understanding of the complexities inherent in the teaching profession. It is hoped this study will contribute to that understanding and help enable teachers to translate improved work satisfaction to ever more successful teaching, with the likely outcome of well-educated generations of students.