Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Dimensions of social capital among high school mathematics teachers
by Koebley, Sarah Cotton, Ph.D., Kent State University, 2013, 272; 3618879
Abstract (Summary)

This study sought to uncover teacher perceptions of social capital within a high school mathematics department utilizing a research design that acknowledged the complex environment faced by high school teachers and their subsequent interpretations of how and from whom they sought access to professional resources. Through an analysis of narratives captured as teachers interviewed one another in strong-tie pairs, the study identified the elements of social capital which were central to the professional lives of high school mathematics teachers. Narrative analysis revealed that the group, situated in an urban setting, was able to define issues around trust and structure within their network. There was significantly less discussion or acknowledgement of the remaining dimensions of social capital: level of professional expertise within their group, and the depth or content of their professional interactions. Teachers had no vocabulary, interactional routines, norms or other tools to assist in the analysis of these key social capital resources.

The study found that there is a need for an additional dimension to be included in existing social capital models. Defined as “Group Self-Knowledge”, I describe this construct as a way for teacher networks to detect, define and assess their own capacity for change and innovation. The ability of a network to assess its social capital is described as necessary in determining specific needs for professional development resources, and in aligning those needs with the resources (physical, human or social capital) that are most likely to lead to conditions in which a network could learn, adapt, grow and change. Social capital models offer constructs which can assist in social capital analysis, and which could lead to significant impacts on educational organizations: a "systems" view that privileges the knowledge of the group and disrupts teachers' tendency towards individualism, presentism and conservatism (Lortie, 1975); an expectation of professionalism, creativity and problem-solving from the teachers within the system; a shift away from a deficit model of teaching towards a vision of educational systems as collections of assets; and an educational model that operates from a standpoint of reinvestment and re-cycling of vital resources back into itself.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: M.Arhar, Joanne
Commitee: Arhar, Joanne, Caniglia, Joanne, Mikusa, Michael, Niesz, Tricia
School: Kent State University
Department: Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Social research, Pedagogy, Secondary education
Keywords: High school, Mathematics, Narrative analysis, Social capital, Teachers, Teaching
Publication Number: 3618879
ISBN: 9781303874185
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