Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Enacting competing ideologies: How classroom dynamics influence the education of disaffected early adolescents at a community day school
by Kennedy, Brianna Lynn, Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2009, 340; 3368705
Abstract (Summary)

Due to the increasing number of violent incidents on school campuses, zero tolerance policies have proliferated among school districts across the United States. These policies serve the purpose of removing student offenders but do not address the educational needs of these students after expulsion. In California, expelled students are sent to community day schools (CDSs), where only general guidelines apply to daily school practice and little is known about what actually occurs to educate students. This study aims to develop a literature base regarding CDSs by getting an in-depth look at one average school.

As students placed in these schools often display extreme needs in social-emotional as well as academic areas, rapport building and classroom management, along with instructional activities, play significant roles. Positioned within a theoretical framework that combines pastoral care and sociological theory, this study examines teachers' implementations of casework, curriculum, and classroom management in daily classroom practices. Specifically, the study answers two questions regarding how these three constructs shape students' development, and how factors beyond the classroom walls impact teachers' practices. The study employs a multiple case study design that looks across individual teachers' classrooms at one middle school serving these students in order to develop a local theory to describe teachers' practices. Data collection included observations of classrooms and school meetings, interviews of students, teachers, and administrators, and document analysis of relevant materials. Observations and interviews were transcribed and coded using HyperRESEARCH software, and themes were identified to develop the theory.

Findings show that curricular practices, rapport building, and classroom management mutually reinforce one another in a way that either promotes or obfuscates the meeting of teachers' daily goals. The local theory of classroom dynamics, built using the data from this study, illustrates the interactive nature of these three constructs and places them within the context of other salient factors that affect classroom life. Such factors emerged at federal and state levels, including legislation and policies affecting funding and school structures; the district level, including hiring processes and provisions for supplemental services; and the school level, including school culture and leadership strategies. Each of these factors plays a unique role in reinforcing school practices, which has both positive and negative impacts on student experiences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Datnow, Amanda
Commitee: Astor, Ron, Kezar, Adrianna
School: University of Southern California
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology, Secondary education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Alternative education, Classroom dynamics, Community day school, Disaffected, Discipline, Ideology in schooling, Middle school, School discipline
Publication Number: 3368705
ISBN: 978-1-109-29499-6
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