Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Todo lo puede: Promoting agency in poor children in Costa Rica
by Mahon, Mary Kathleen, Ph.D., Biola University, 2014, 175; 3666734
Abstract (Summary)

This study was conducted to contribute a qualitative inquiry regarding the role of teachers in the education of children who were born into the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty (ITP) cycle in Latin America. Education is key to help students pull themselves out of poverty and yet the drop-out rates in primary school among children born into poverty in Latin America remains high. The purpose of the case study was to discover and describe how teachers can foster agency in students born into poverty. Agency is ability to initiate and carry out activities on one's own. The research focused on teachers' beliefs and assumptions about their students, the teachers' methodologies, the students' expressions of agency, and the construction of a Christian identity in the students.

Data were collected through focus groups interviews with 3rd and 4th grade students, teacher interviews, and observations in a Christian elementary school affiliated with Latin America ChildCare and Fundación PIEDAD located in a zone of social vulnerability in San José, Costa Rica.

Four practices within the educational community emerged from the data as promoting agency within students: (a) the use of adaptive constructivism techniques in education, (b) a focus on agency in the identity development of the students, (c) the use of narrative for meaning making in the lives of the students, and (d) the fostering of an experiential spirituality among the students, teachers, and staff.

Recommendations for further research include longitudinal studies of students born into poverty, the role of agency in fostering school retention in secondary school, and studies of intrinsic motivations of students born into poverty.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hayward, Douglas
Commitee: Starcher, Richard L., Stranske, Tim
School: Biola University
Department: Cook School of Intercultural Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pedagogy, Latin American Studies, Spirituality
Keywords: Agency, Children's spirituality, Costa rica, Education, Latin america childcare, Poverty
Publication Number: 3666734
ISBN: 978-1-321-39954-7
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