Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding decisions Latino students make regarding persistence in the science and math pipeline
by Munro, Janet Lynn, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2009, 263; 3350467
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative study focused on the knowledge and perceptions of Latino high school students, as well those of their parents and school personnel, at a southwestern, suburban high school regarding persistence in the math/science pipeline. In the context of the unique school and community setting these students experience, the decision-making process was examined with particular focus on characterizing the relationships that influence the process. While the theoretical framework that informs this study was that of social capital, its primary purpose was to inform the school’s processes and policy in support of increased Latino participation in the math and science pipeline. Since course selection may be the most powerful factor affecting school achievement and college-preparedness, and since course selection is influenced by school policy, school personnel, students, parents, and teachers alike, it is important to understand the beliefs and perceptions that characterize the relationships among them. The qualitative research design involved a phenomenological study of nine Latino students, their parents, their teachers and counselors, and certain support personnel from the high school. The school’s and community’s environment in support of academic intensity served as context for the portrait that developed.

Given rapidly changing demographics that bring more and more Latino students to suburban high schools, the persistent achievement gap experienced by Latino students, and the growing dependence of the world economy on a citizenry versed in the math- and science-related fields, a deeper understanding of the decision-making processes Latino 12 students experience can inform school policy as educators struggle to influence those decisions.

This study revealed a striking lack of knowledge concerning the college-entrance ramifications of continued course work in math and science beyond that required for graduation, relationships among peers, parents, and school personnel that were markedly lacking in influence over the decision a student makes to continue, or not, course work beyond that required for graduation, and a general dismissal of the value of math- and science-related careers. Also lacking was any evidence of social capital within parental networks that reflected intergenerational closure.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jones, Toni Griego
Commitee: Carter, Kathy, Vinson, Kevin
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Teaching & Teacher Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 70/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Bilingual education, Secondary education, Science education
Keywords: Latino, Math pipeline, Science pipeline, Social capital
Publication Number: 3350467
ISBN: 9781109085082
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