Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Linked learning and African American student engagement: A case study
by Anderson, Felicia M., Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2014, 213; 3674330
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative case study examined the engagement experiences of African American students in the COMPASS and PEACE Linked Learning certified pathways at Millikan High School in the Long Beach Unified School District. The study explores institution-controlled factors of the Linked Learning Pathways model that demonstrate positive influences over the African American achievement gap. Institution-controlled factors that positively influence equitable practices and access in concert with engaged student-controlled factors could potentially reduce the dropout rate. The long term benefits of Linked Learning could improve the quality of the workforce as well as reduce poverty, crime, and incarceration rates.

This case study consisted of 18 interviews: 1 0 with African American students in COMPASS and PEACE and 8 with adult staff members who had direct involvement with the students. The participants' voices illuminated five themes. First, having a robust desire to realize the dream in a certified pathway operationalized students' efforts. Second, quality curriculum and instruction fueled by strong philosophical belief is an institution-controlled factor that positively affects African American students' level of engagement specific to ethics, personal growth, and academic satisfaction. Third, critical race pedagogy is an instructional tool used by teachers who genuinely have passion for teaching disenfranchised students. Fourth, a focus on social justice means students engage in dialogue and activities around global and local issues that inspire them to act. Fifth, students' access and equity influence whether or not they feel welcomed and empowered to take the initiative to seek assistance. Together, these five themes weaved a picture of a supportive environment that promotes greater student satisfaction and enhances engagement.

The study is directly related to the state's high school reform efforts to improve the quality of the workforce and economic development. The measures of quality within a Linked Learning certified pathway were integral to this study and could significantly inform reform efforts and support strides toward closing the achievement gap. The program proposes to support all students, and Millikan demonstrated results with African American students are worthy of examination. This inquiry investigated Linked Learning Pathways' support of African American students, their perceptions, and lived experiences using the SELL conceptual framework. The SELL was informed by Appleton, Christenson, and Furlong's "Student Engagement with School: Critical Conceptual and Methodological Issues of the Construct," Tinto's "Dropout from Higher Education: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research" and Tinto and Pusser's (2006) "Moving from Theory to Action: Building a Model of Institutional Action for Student Success."

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Scott, James W.
Commitee: Baker, Jill, O'Brien, Jonathan
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Educational evaluation, Educational leadership
Keywords: Achievement gap, Linked learning, Long Beach, Smaller learning communities, Student achievement, Student engagement
Publication Number: 3674330
ISBN: 978-1-321-27673-2
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