Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An autoethnographic study: Can students in a large inner-city high school find benefits in a small learning environment?
by Littles, Victor Hugh, Ed.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2014, 86; 3646936
Abstract (Summary)

This research was designed as an autoethnographic study using the researcher's own reflections, observations, and experiences to determine if smaller high schools are better for inner-city students than a large high school learning environment. Autoethnography is increasingly used as a research method, pushing the boundaries of qualitative inquiry by focusing on a phenomenon in the life of the researcher as the central aspect of study (Fetterman, 2010). Based on interviews, student and teacher surveys, and personal journals and diaries, the study focused on my work as a teacher in a large inner-city high school in a California school district. The large high school was converted to three smaller schools in 2003. Told in vignettes that describe my perceptions and the perceptions of the other participants in my study regarding the conversion from large to small schools, selected stories document the factors that led to my conclusions. The key issue in this study, then, involved the perception of the stakeholders as to whether small schools were more advantageous for student success.

My study revealed some interesting facts about small schools. Small schools foster closer relationships between the adults and students and among the students themselves. As a result, students feel more engaged with the school community, and these close relationships are accompanied by greater mutual respect. It seems that it is difficult to be abusive to others who you know and value which the students themselves recognized.

For years, before the implementation of the small school concept, Clark High School's campus was riddled with crime. The student body lived in California, in an area plagued with violence and poverty and all the social ills that accompany this environment. Safety has always been an issue for parents, teachers, and students. I have clearly demonstrated that, when it comes to small schools, students in urban areas benefit from a safer environment. For example, I did not witness the number of fights or shootings that I did when Clark was a large school. Also, after Clark High School converted into three small schools, there was a decrease in student suspensions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mahon, Lee
Commitee: Bohlke, Karen, Epstein, Kitty K., Ishtai-Zee, Szabi, Teel, Karen
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: The School of Educational Leadership for Change
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational evaluation, Elementary education, Educational psychology
Keywords: Autoethnographic, High school students, Small school concept, Urban, Vignettes
Publication Number: 3646936
ISBN: 9781321370393
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