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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A qualitative study of students' experiences in a bilingual/bicultural urban middle school
by Rodriguez, Jorge, Ed.D., University of Rochester, 2010, 166; 3421827
Abstract (Summary)

Despite a significant amount of research and intervention programs, Puerto Rican students in U.S. mainland urban public schools continue to have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any ethnic group in the nation. Research has tended to focus on isolating cultural deficits in students and their families that cause these increased rates of attrition; however, new research has focused more on understanding socio-cultural incongruence between Puerto Rican students and U.S. educational school practices. A promising intervention that has shown some success in increasing Puerto Rican high school student academic performance and retention are schools that embrace their culture and family organization, exemplifying a socio-cultural approach to learning and development (Moll & Whitmore, 1993).

Researchers and educators who subscribe to a socio-cultural approach to education question the wisdom and efficacy of simply isolating alleged cultural deficits. Specifically, these educational researchers have begun to examine how the social and cultural interaction between home, school, and the community has impact on educational practices and student academic performance (Bronfenbrenner, 1986; Comer, 1988 Epstein, 1987).

However, despite the potential of such research to increase our understanding on how to improve student academic performance and high school persistence, little is known about how such research can help educators assist Puerto Rican students. The purpose of this study is to understand, from a grounded theory approach and from an ecological-systems perspective, how Puerto Rican students view their learning experience in a school that embraces their language and cultural norms.

Focus group interviews were first conducted with fifth and sixth grade students with diverse ethnic backgrounds to understand more broadly how they collectively view learning at the charter school. They were followed with a focus group interview with the "core group" of Puerto Rican students so that their unique perspectives could be understood. Analysis of the data resulted in differences in perception that are at the heart of this investigation to understand how Puerto Rican students view their learning experiences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Guiffrida, Doug
School: University of Rochester
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Bilingual education, Educational sociology, Middle School education, Social structure, Curriculum development
Keywords: At risk, Cooperative learning structures, Drop-out, Experiential learning, Puerto Rican, Puerto Rican students, Urban education, Urban schools
Publication Number: 3421827
ISBN: 978-1-124-22193-9
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