Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Social Capital and High School Graduation Rates
by Wenk, John, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2011, 201; 3478805
Abstract (Summary)

Social capital theory, and to a lesser extent, cultural capital theory, have become popular theoretical constructs for understanding the replication of SES both in and out of schools. Hundreds of studies have demonstrated connected a student's stock of social and cultural capital and academic success. Fewer studies, however, have analyzed the various dimensions of social capital to gain a more nuanced understanding of how it may contribute to academic success, and fewer still have gone beyond the individual to study social and cultural capital at a school-wide level in order to understand it as the communal property of a group the way that Bourdieu and Putnam have theorized.

This mixed method study uses pathway, multiple regression analysis to evaluate the interrelationships between various forms of social and cultural capital and measure their relative power to predict urban high school graduation rates. This meso-level study uses the school as the unit of analysis and considers school size, income levels and racial and ethnic mix. The qualitative portion of the study then reports on subsequent interviews of students from a school with robust levels of social and cultural capital in order to explore how these resources were transmitted, generally through extracurricular activities, to the students and how they may have used them to facilitate their graduation.

The results of both the quantitative and qualitative portions of the study support the hypotheses that extracurricular activities facilitate the attainment of peer and institutional social capital, and that the presence of these forms of social capital, along with teacher social capital and robust information networks, predict a school's level of norms and sanctions (safety) which, in turn, is a strong determinant of graduation rates. The demographic analysis indicated that small schools tend to be more successful in building the social capital of its students and teachers, and that social capital is a more significant predictor of graduation in schools with high levels of minority students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Anyon, Jean
Commitee: Michelli, Nicholas, Spring, Joel
School: City University of New York
Department: Urban Education
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, Secondary education
Keywords: Cultural capital, Extracurricular activities, Graduation rates, Social capital
Publication Number: 3478805
ISBN: 9781124966397
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