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2017 Dissertations

Am I A Leader? Understanding Leadership From High School Students in Leadership Positions

Babak Aminitehrani

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Symcox, Linda

Abstract

Educators wax eloquently about the importance of developing leaders, and establish a variety of high school student clubs that on the surface appear to develop leadership skills, but they do not seem to really provide students with a curriculum or meaningful opportunities to develop the skills and dispositions that are required to become leaders. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate and describe how high school students feel about leadership, that is, to see how high school students define leadership, to determine their motivation behind seeking out leadership opportunities, and to see what types of experiences high school students have with leadership on and off campus. This study was conducted using both document analysis and in-depth semi-structured interviews, while utilizing the theoretical framework of relational leadership. The 25 participants of this study were high school student leaders during the 2015-2016 school year who collectively represented 29 clubs at the same school site. Findings of this study reveal that participants’ understanding of leadership includes setting the example for others, guiding and leading other people, reaching a common goal, and serving others. The school environment and female family members seem to be the most powerful influences on participants’ understanding of leadership. Participants’ motivation for seeking out leadership opportunities comprise of having a desire to help or guide others, desiring self-improvement, desiring to help change the school environment, or desiring to look good. Only a handful of participants actually participated in club-sponsored leadership development programs, though some of these programs appear to be inadequate for high school students. Participants did seem to develop some amount of leadership abilities as student leaders, though it appears this was primarily due to their observations or experiences, rather than to a formal leadership development program. Findings suggest that there is a connection between the level of relationship built between a student leader and club advisor, and the student leader’s level of leadership development. This study provides recommendations for policy that can support the development of leadership skills for high school students with support from club advisors, school administrators, and district level personnel.

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Self-Perceptions of Educational Success among Displaced LGBTQ+ Youth: An Exploration of Experience, Supports, Resilience, and Potential

Tony Beeson

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Reese, Leslie

Abstract

Displaced Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) youth exist in educational environments are ill-equipped to support them in their pursuit of educational success. Limited research on this group documents a lack of targeted supports resulting in significant struggles as they attempt to overcome obstacles in their path toward success. This study overlays the Minority Stress Process and Adolescent Resilience Theory’s models of support in an attempt to understand how targeted supports helped seven individuals overcome obstacles throughout their displacement. The study explored these individuals’ perceptions of the displacement, supports, resilience, and potential for educational access and success. Interview data was analyzed to arrive at experiences that informed the development of codes and themes. In order to contextualize participant interview data, five observations of externally-based support groups and interviews with two support providers were conducted.

            The participants in this study had diverse identities within the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Also, some were forcibly displaced due to familial nonacceptance of their gender or sexual identities, while others self-displaced in an attempt to live openly. However, they each described the loss of both familial supports and each reported a lack of targeted supports at school to help them overcome identity nonacceptance, displacement, and lack of belonging. All participants fought to access externally-based protective and compensatory supports. Educational institutions must implement policies and practices to ensure all displaced LGBTQ+ individuals are supported. By mirroring the externally-based programs that are successful with limiting the effects of displacement and identity non-acceptance, educational institutions can interrupt the Minority Stress Process and the associated adversity.

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Temporary Leadership in Athletics: The Experiences of Interim NCAA Directors of Athletics

Jamie Nicole Bouyer Purnell

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Haviland, Don

Abstract

Turnover in intercollegiate athletics leadership often results in an interim director of athletics appointment, which is a quick solution to fill a gap in leadership until a permanent successor can be named.  Not only is interim leadership a convenient option for the institution, it can also provide an individual the opportunity to serve in a senior leadership position that may otherwise be difficult to obtain.  Although there are many advantages to serving as an interim director of athletics, those who serve in the role are also faced with a number of challenges that have implications to the individual and institution during the temporary appointment.

This dissertation captured the experiences of interim National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) directors of athletics.  Through the use of qualitative interviews, the dissertation explored and described the perceived benefits, challenges, and institutional support experienced by fifteen participants who had served and completed their appointment as an interim NCAA director of athletics.  Bridges’ (2004) Transition Theory Model, and the Human Resource Frame of Bolman and Deal’s (2013) Organizational Reframing Model provided the conceptual framework to analyze the data of this study. 

The study found that participants experienced change that triggered their transition into the interim director of athletics role causing them to let go of an old identity with which they were familiar.  Participants also experienced varying degrees of unfamiliarity as they adapted to new job tasks, experienced increased workloads, and managed new and old relationships.  Ultimately, participants experienced acceptance of their role as interim by building the confidence and skills needed to be successful before they transitioned out of the interim director of athletics position into their next role.

Recommendations for policy include the need to develop NCAA and institutional guidelines to provide a go to guide in how to efficiently and effectively support an interim director of athletics.  Practice recommendations include the implementation of procedures that encourage professional learning and growth opportunities.  Finally, future research should examine employment trends and provide different perspectives on the experiences of interim NCAA directors of athletics, such as gender and race differences, family dynamics, and staff perception. 

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Size Matters: The Impact of Weight-Based Discrimination on College Students’ Physical Health,

Mental Health and Academic Achievement

Judy Diep

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Ratanasiripong, Paul

Abstract

Inclusion of students with diverse identities and addressing all forms of discrimination are critical for institutes of higher education. While progress has been made to create welcoming environments for many social groups, one has been largely ignored. Fat students are at risk for facing weight-based discrimination with possibly detrimental effects. Internalization of weight bias further prevents fat students from seeking help or coping with the discrimination they face. Given that there are no legal protections against weight-based discrimination, and a general acceptability of weight bias, fat students are possibly marginalized and left to cope on their own. Weight-based discrimination and weight bias may be detrimental to a student’s physical health, mental health, and overall academic success. It is critical for educational leaders to understand the complexities of weight-based discrimination in order to build truly inclusive campuses. Literature on the effects of weight bias and discrimination on college students, particularly students of color, is scarce. The purpose of this quantitative study was to explore gender and racial differences in college students experiencing weight-based discrimination, and examine the relationship between weight-based discrimination, self-esteem, internalized weight bias, physical health, mental health, and grade point average (GPA). This study used the psychological mediation framework developed by Sikorski et. al (2015) to guide the development of a survey instrument that was emailed to a sample of students attending a large, four-year public university in Southern California. A total of 502 participants completed the survey by answering questions related to demographic measures, measures of weight-based discrimination, self-esteem, internalized weight bias, physical health, and mental health. The findings revealed that female college students reported experiencing significantly more weight-based discrimination than male college students. Weight-based discrimination affected students regardless of race/ethnicity. Weight-based discrimination significantly predicted lower levels of physical health and mental health. Furthermore, internalized weight bias and self-esteem were found to be significant mediators of the effect of weight-based discrimination on physical health and mental health. The results of this study provide a better understanding of the physical and psychosocial effects of weight-based discrimination of college students. Recommendations are made for the development of size inclusive policies and practices, inclusion of fat pedagogy, and a weight-neutral approach to college health so that students of all sizes may persist in their educational endeavors.

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Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and Implementation Science

Christina Dillard

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Scott, James

Abstract

Many districts and schools are having difficulty implementing MTSS in school settings.  While MTSS is an evidence based practice meant to address the academic, social-emotional and behavior needs of all students, only twenty-four percent of districts responding to a nationwide survey, have an operational MTSS model where utilizing the MTSS framework is daily routine (Spectrum K-12, 2011).  One major obstacle to implementing and sustaining MTSS is the disconnect between what the research says about evidence based programs and what the research says about principles of systems change (Fixsen, Naoom, Blasé, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005).  This quantitative study set out to examine the stage of MTSS implementation schools are at and identify factors that account for the different stages of implementation as well as the perceived outcomes related to MTSS implementation. 

The implementation science model provided a theoretical framework for this study Within the implementation science framework, Fixsen et al. (2005) developed a typology of four stages: exploration, installation, initial implementation and final implementation that describes the four stages for program implementation.  Within these stages are specific implementation drivers of competency, organization and leadership that are used to build implementation capacity, consensus and sustainability (Fixsen, 2015).  The researcher collected data to determine in what general stage of implementation participant California schools were found to be at the time of study.  The researcher also investigated if there was a relationship between implementation drivers (Fixsen et al., 2015) and the school principals’ perceptions of how effective MTSS has been at improving student learning, improving student social-emotional behavior and reducing referrals to special education.  The results of the responses from 135 school principals in California revealed, most schools were in the initial implementation stage. 

While implementation drivers of competency and organization were significant predictors of MTSS perceived effectiveness of student outcomes, the leadership driver was found not to be a significant predictor of perceived student outcomes.  This finding is most likely due to the fact that California is in the early stages of implementing MTSS and district and county leadership has not been active in helping schools implement MTSS.  Very few schools that responded to the survey are using a formal evaluation of implementation of MTSS practices or involving parents in the planning and evaluation of MTSS.  Additionally, the results revealed that schools have most elements of evidence based practices (EBPs) for academic difficulties, but less EBPs are in place for students who are either at-risk or have emotional behavioral difficulties.  Majority of the respondents indicated that there is majority buy-in among the school staff regarding implementation of MTSS.

            While California is in the early stages of implementation of MTSS, these findings have important implications for the technical assistance that schools need in order to effectively integrate MTSS social-emotional and behavior evidence based practices with academic evidence based practices.  Additionally, some of the schools are not finding MTSS as effective in decreasing special education referrals.  This has important implications as MTSS was developed as a preventive system (Harn, 2011).  The significance of this study will provide timely information and recommendations for school leaders as they navigate the challenges of implementing MTSS with fidelity in moving toward more inclusive learning cultures.  Based on the results of this study, recommendations for Policy, Practice and Research were thematically presented, in the areas of 1) Family engagement, 2) Program evaluation, 3) Budget allocation, and 4) Technical assistance to effectively implement MTSS for sustainability and student outcomes. 

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Moving In, Moving Through, Moving Out: The Transitional Experiences of Foster Youth College Student

Sara I. Gamez

California State University, Long Beach 2016

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Davis, Shametrice

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the transitional experiences of foster youth college students.  The study explored how foster youth experienced moving into, moving through and moving out of the college environment and what resources and strategies they used to thrive during their college transitions.  In addition, this study investigated what perceived influence placement change had on their college experience.  Semi-structured interviews were conducted to develop a greater understanding of 22 foster youth who were attending or had graduated from a four-year university.  Schlossberg’s Adult Transition framework (Anderson, Goodman & Schlossberg, 2012) was utilized to provide a critical lens for analyses and understanding of the unique transitional experiences foster youth have as college students. Four major themes emerged: fear of the next chapter, motivation, support, and continued struggles.  Recommendations based on the findings include, policy to expand financial support for youth and campus support programs, practice efforts to improve mental health and wellness services, in addition to specialized transitional programming for graduating students. 

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Who’s Got My Six? Understanding the Experiences and Transitional Challenges of California Community College Student Veterans and their Pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree

Eric Garcia

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Vega, William

Abstract

With the concentrated government effort to withdraw U.S. armed forces from the ongoing foreign conflicts, millions of veterans are anticipated to transition back into American culture over the next several years.  Once discharged, many veterans turn to the California community college (CCC) system for assistance with initiating their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefit and societal reintegration.  As a historically disenfranchised student population, countless student veterans arrive at CCCs with physical and emotional traumas stemming from combat, lack college readiness, and have civilian adjustment difficulties.  While all students in the CCC system have flexibility with persisting at a pace conducive with their academic skill, readiness, and motivation, student veterans have added internal stressors of transferring at an accelerated rate due to the time limitations of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. 

The purpose of this study is to explore the transitional experiences of student veterans who leveraged their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill at a CCC in pursuit of a timely transfer to a university.  A qualitative interview was utilized to understand the life transitions CCC student veterans endure and how their experiences may foster or hinder their timely transfer to a university.  The sample group included 20 student veteran participants formally enrolled at Rolling Hills Community College (RHCC) and Crescent View Community College (CVCC) located in adjoining counties in Southern California.  Purposeful sampling was employed to elicit information rich cases for in-depth study that have experienced the central phenomenon of interest and provide answers to the questions under study.

Four major themes emerged that describe the experiences that may foster or hinder a timely transfer from a community to four-year college.  Themes that fostered a timely transfer included developing self and solidifying personal identity and community of support.  Themes that hindered a timely transfer included managing the transition and racing against time.

Anderson, Goodman, and Schlossberg’s (2012) framework of moving in, moving through, and moving out, in conjunction with the 4 S System of support, was the theoretical framework utilized to analyze the findings.  Recommendations based on the findings of this study include establishing a Post-9/11 financial awareness and literacy training program, mandating enrollment in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, streamlining college counseling services, and broadening research efforts to examine the academic outcomes of student veterans. 

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Engaging, Educating, and Empowering Latino Males at Four-Year Institutions

Ali X. Gonzalez

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Davis, Shametrice

Abstract

Latino males in California continue to be underrepresented at four-year universities across the state (Casselman, 2014). Although four-year institutions may have programs and practices in place to support Latino males in their degree completion, literature revealed that some institutions fail to understand the factors that prevent students of color from fully maximizing such programs and the responsibility institutions have in creating practices and programs that support access and equity in student engagement (Harper 2009; Kuh 1991). In what ways can four-year institutions create or enhance existing support and engagement opportunities, so that they meet the needs of Latino males at four-year institutions?

            While literature exists on the experiences of Latino males at community colleges (Wood, Palmer & Harris, 2015) this study seeks to understand how participation in student support and engagement programs and practices at four-year universities impacts the intersectional identities of this group. This study is particularly relevant and crucial as additional funding for California public four-year institutions has become increasingly tied to four-year graduation rates (Bollag 2016; Wheaton, 2017) 

            The purpose of this study was to understand the ways in which the diverse identities of Latino males (race, gender, class, sexual orientation, citizenship status, etc.) are impacted by their use of student support and engagement programs and practices. Through extensive interviews that were analyzed through the lens of Latino Critical Theory (LatCrit), the individual experiences of Latino males were captured through rich descriptive detail of the participants’ experiences, resulting in a qualitative analysis of those experiences.

            Findings revealed that Latino males bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and skills to their institutions as they negotiate various expectations from their families, communities and of themselves. Although Latino males may not be able to fully maximize support opportunities, they demonstrate a diligent work ethic, an ability to navigate unfamiliar, and at times hostile environments, while continuing to remain committed to family and community responsibilities. Additionally, this study produced a five-step theoretical model demonstrating the factors that influence how and why Latino males utilize campus services, and recommendations for how institutions can adapt to the needs of these students, rather than the students adapting to the needs of the programs and practices of the institution. 

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Embracing Culturally Responsive Methods to Educate Culturally and Linguistically Diverse International Students in the U.S.

Melissa O. Grab

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Reese, Leslie

Abstract

Even though a substantial number of international graduate students pursue their education in U.S. higher education institutions, existing policies, regulations and procedures do not clearly define their linguistic and cultural needs. The cultural knowledge or familiarity that students need to function effectively in U.S. classrooms is often overlooked. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the cultural challenges that international graduate students experience in classrooms in an American higher education institution and to explore the practice of culturally responsive teaching to accommodate their academic needs. This study specifically focused on implicit cultural components in curriculum and instruction, and the strategies that may assist graduate international students to accomplish their academic goals. There were two groups of participants in this study: The first group of participants were 25 international graduate students, and the second group of participants were 3 faculty and 2 administrator members at the public university. The conceptual framework was used as a framework of this study, which has four components: (1) Societal Factors, (2) Student Factors, (3) University Experiences and (4) Student Outcomes. Findings for the societal factors revealed that linguicism in some form was experienced by all students, but racism and Islamophobia impacted mainly students of color. Additionally, these societal factors impacted interactions in the classroom between international students and native English speaking American students. The findings for the student factors indicated that graduate international students necessitate extra support with the required cultural, historical and current event knowledge, and also with academic English language in American classrooms. The major component was the role of English language pragmatics in course materials, assessments and classroom participation. The university experiences inputs suggested that embracing culturally responsive methods and creating a bridge between students’ culture and prior knowledge and classroom content can enhance the academic success of both international and domestic students. This dissertation provides recommendations for policy and practice that can support the cultural and linguistic needs of graduate international students.

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Preparing Special Education Teachers to Teach Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Leann T. Hardwick

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Hansuvadha, Nat

Abstract

Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present different needs to special education teachers in school today. Without the proper supports and preparation, 75% of special education teachers will leave the field of special education within the first ten years of teaching, with most of the teachers leaving the field within the first three years (Council for Exceptional Children, 2014). Without appropriate interventions, children with ASD are at risk of falling behind their same-aged peers throughout school or making progress towards IEP goals (Lovaas, 1987; Leaf & McEachin, 1999). This study explores the types of preparation: 1) formal education, 2) experiences with people with ASD, and 3) support from administration or an expert in the field of ASD and how it may impact special education teacher self-efficacy.  Through the lens of Bandura’s (1977) self-efficacy framework and applying it to special education teachers, a survey design study was employed. The on-line survey, adapted from the ASSET (Ruble, Usher, & McGrew, 2011), teachers were asked to rate their level of confidence to thirty questions specifically related to needs of students with ASD and how they feel they were best prepared for that skill between formal education, experience and support. Fifty-six responses were received but only thirty-six surveys were used due to completeness. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to find the mean differences on the global self-efficacy scores of special education teachers and the mode of three types of preparation. No statistical significance was found to be a greater predictor of special education teacher self-efficacy. The findings highlighted that special education teachers who had a higher level of self-efficacy received all three types of preparation. The six teachers who did not feel self-efficacious, with a total score of 70 or less, reported feeling mostly prepared through formal education or not at all. The recommendations based on the findings and literature include a national program that partners with school districts to support special education teachers working with students with ASD to learn and implement evidence based methodologies for teaching students with ASD in the areas of behavior, social skills and communication, incorporating more experience for pre-service teachers with students with ASD and supporting administration to provide support to beginning teachers. In addition, working closely with agencies, such as the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) to create experts in the field to be mentors and educators in public schools. 

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Principal’s Preparation in Special Education: Its Effect on Creating an Inclusionary Culture

Deborah L. Hofreiter

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Scott, James

Abstract

The importance of principal preparation in special education has increased since the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed in 1975. There are significant financial reasons for preparing principals in the area of special education. Recent research also shows that all children learn better in an inclusive environment. Principals who are not prepared in the area of special education have a difficult time implementing an inclusive culture at their schools. This qualitative inquiry study set out to explore principals’ perceptions of their preparation in special education and subsequent district support in building their understanding and implementation of an inclusionary culture in their schools.

             Grounded in Critical Disability Theory (Hosking, 2008) and Social Justice Leadership Framework(Furman, 2012), the conceptual framework of this study, Inclusive Leadership Framework, outlined characteristics of an inclusive leader and a framework for building an inclusive culture. Some principals interviewed for the study demonstrated these characteristics and some did not. Principals wanted to learn more about special education and wanted their students to succeed. The Inclusive Leadership Framework evolved throughout the study, but was remained grounded to prevailing praxis of reflection and action.

            This study examined the attitudes of principals in K-12 settings in nine Southern California school districts in order to discover their perceptions of the effect their administrative credential preparation in special education had on building an inclusive culture. In addition, principals offered their perceptions relative to how district support in special education helped inform leadership practice regarding building a culture of inclusion. Finally, participants shared anecdotal experiences revealing ways they “learned on the job” as they navigated the world of special education. Recommendations for policy and practice for administrative preparation programs and the Clear Administrative Credential process, professional development and coaching of administrators is addressed in this study.

            Significant findings revealed that principals who feel unprepared in special education do not always develop an inclusionary culture, or understand its benefits to student learning. In addition, participants revealed that they would have preferred knowing more about the process of special education before taking their first administrative position. One interesting anecdotal finding suggested that administrators who are parents of a special needs child or were one themselves are very well educated in the realm of special education and take a personal interest in it. A key recommendation for policy/practice/research included making a special education goal in the Individual Induction Plan for the Clear Administrative Credential. The program includes coaching and coaches need to be provided that can instruct in special education and the building of inclusive school culture.

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Native Mind, Heart, Spirit: Journey to Liberation, Decolonization and Being

 

Leslie Jimenez

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Perez-Huber, Lindsay

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of Native American college students in higher education, sources of support, tools of resistance against oppression, and the role of these tools within spiritual activism. Moreover, through a decolonized methodology, indigenous frameworks, and Indigenous research agenda, the purpose of this decolonized project was to explore the reconciliation, mobilization, self-determination, transformation, and decolonization initiatives of Native American college students.

Seven co-storytellers shared their journeys within higher education through one-on-one interviews and a talking circle. Seven Native college women shared their experience within higher education and the role that their cultural identity plays within their experience and within their future goals. Each woman shared their upbringing and the ways in which their upbringing filtered into their experience at home, the classroom, and within the community. Co-storytellers are Indigenous from Canada, the states, and Mexico. They are all first-generation college students. Three of the women were graduate students and four of the women were undergraduates.

This dissertation was conducted in accordance with a decolonized methodology following an Indigenous Research Agenda. Coupled with the Corn Model of American Indian Higher Education framework, will be the Indigenous Well-Being of Higher Education Model Framework. An Indigenous Research Agenda guided testimonio to reveal their journeys through the form of storytelling.

The findings of this project reveal that co-storytellers all demonstrate resistance, resiliency, perseverance, courage, and reconciliation as they navigate academia and intergenerational and historical trauma. Their voices, as collective, highlight knowledge systems, ways of knowing, stories, and tools of resistance Native American college students bring with them to college settings from their upbringing, the community, ceremony, and prayer. The results of this study provide a better understanding of the college experiences of Native American students and their tools of resistance that help them navigate, resist and persist through higher education. Through an indigenous based framework (Secatero, 2009, 2015), findings highlight the effects that ongoing colonization and genocide has on these students and their families.

Through a one-on-one interview and a talking circle, stories sprouted up. Findings examine current structures that contribute to the erasure of Native people within the curriculum, policies, and pedagogy. Through the examination and discussion of erasure within a talking circle, and in accordance with Indigenous knowledge systems, storytelling, and decolonized research approaches, pedagogical tools for teaching emerged. Through the literature, current policies, practice, and cultural values, recommendations were provided.

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Toward Advocacy and Leadership: A Study of the Experiences of First-Year Early Childhood

Directors in a Mentoring Relationship

Tawnie S. King

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Slater, Charles

Abstract

Currently, there is a gap in the literature highlighting the need for professional development in the form of mentoring support for first-year directors in Early Childhood Education (ECE). Researchers contend that very few beginning leaders in ECE are prepared to take on their positions and the responsibilities that come with leadership and its challenges and thus, very few are fully prepared for the complexities of leading an Early Childhood program. The ECE field lacks a coherent leadership construct and often, directors are left to their own devices to cope with the demands and challenges of the position. This isolation can often impede performance with regard to executing leadership skills. Experience in teaching along with educational experience rarely correlate to what it requires to be an ECE director as one consistently takes on multiple responsibilities and handles a variety of tasks and challenges within the role.

The primary purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of first-year ECE directors who took part in the California Early Childhood Mentor Program (CECMP) during the 2015-2016 school year.  Through in-depth one-on-one interviews, this study focused on the experiences of four protégé directors representing the northern and southern regions of the CECMP.  The protégés engaged in a mentoring relationship with an experienced director mentor. By situating the protégés’ experiences within a 4-path framework of Analyzing, Advancing, Acting and Accelerating (Washington, Gadson & Amel, 2015), this study investigated the impact of the mentoring relationship on addressing challenges and leadership development in an ECE program.   

Findings from this study revealed that when the elements of supportive guidance, supportive resources, self-reflection and supportive relationships are in place, first-year directors can become equipped to address challenges and develop the capacity for leadership. This research is important to the field of ECE as administrators play a crucial role in providing quality services to children and families. Implications of this study indicate that support from an experienced mentor in the field may do much to alleviate some of the hardships experienced by ECE directors within the first year, provided there are adequate methods in place to increase awareness of the existence of such support. One of the key recommendations for policy is the inclusion of mentoring as a resource with options for specific mentoring programs within the Program Standards of the National Association for the Education of Children (NAEYC). This would ensure a comprehensive approach toward addressing the needs of first-year directors. Further recommendations are provided for practice and research.

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A Case Study of the Influence of MultiPurpose Spaces on Campus Life at an Institution of Art and Design

Mike A. Luna

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: O’Brien, Jonathan

Abstract

Many colleges and universities have space on campus that extends beyond a traditional classroom. These areas include but are not limited to dining hall facilities, residence halls, college bookstores, and outdoor quads that serve as a focal point of the institution. In the case of a small, private, Los Angeles-based art and design college, this type of space was not always formally available to its students. Thus, a sense of student community engagement was absent from the college experience.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how the implementation of a new multipurpose space at a college of art and design had the ability to alter the social and academic experiences of art and design students. The study amplified the voices of students who lacked power and longevity at an art and design institution. In a case study method of design, an inter- view protocol was used for primary data collection, with additional data obtained through document collection and participant observation. Environmental theory served as a conceptual framework for this research. Ten students and seven faculty, staff, or other administrators participated in this study in the fall of 2016. Findings emphasized that art and design students have a need to foster expression and thrive in environments where strong levels of student engagement are present.

The new facility serves as the central platform to highlight values or desires that ultimately sustain the heartbeat and magnificence of the new space. Participant motivation to utilize the new space was driven by the opportunity to experience stronger engagement in spaces that were previously nonexistent. While data were collected from multiple college stakeholders, the primary focus of this research was the influence on student culture. The findings suggested a need for new systematic processes that equate to a series of short- and long-term recommendations for policy and practice.

This study provides recommendations for policies and practice that may transfer to similar institutional contexts and provide institutional leaders with insights and strategies to develop community and facilitate a stronger sense of campus life in the context of an art and design school.

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College Application Behaviors: Factors Impacting the College Choices of High School Seniors

Jenifer Mai

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Slater, Charles

Abstract

College application behaviors among students who are similarly prepared vary by socioeconomic status. Recent research suggests that undermatching is a growing trend, especially among low-income students. Undermatching has detrimental consequences for students who possess the potential to succeed at a selective college, but fail to apply, leading to reduced student success and poor economic outcomes. While literature about factors that affect a student’s decision to attend college is abundant, a focus on the selection of college is still limited. A literature review examined how college choice changed over time, and how future trends in students’ college application behaviors might develop.

            This quantitative study used a cross-sectional survey design. Demographic variables were collected along with the results from the Aspects of Identity Questionnaire (AIQ-IV). A paper-and-pencil survey was used to collect data about participants’ race, gender, academic achievement, socioeconomic status, identity orientation, and college choices. In this study, college choice was measured by college selectivity scores, which are annually assigned by the U.S. News & World Report. Surveys were administered to 341 twelfth grade students in a California public high school.

Results revealed that both race and academic achievement are significant predictors (R2 = .422) of college selectivity. Inferential analysis reported that Asian participants (M = 2.75) had a higher mean college selectivity score than Filipino (M = 1.91) and Latino/a (M = 1.99) participants. These findings suggest that Filipino students require support systems that may be different from those available to Asian students.

The findings also suggest that academic achievement is associated with participants’ college choices. Participants who reported high academic achievement levels had higher college selectivity scores, regardless of socioeconomic status, concluding that undermatching was not found for low-income participants at this research site. This is noteworthy because it is different from what literature reports is a negative outcome among low-income students. This suggests there may be external factors that can have a positive impact on college choices in order to overcome the typical effects of social class on college attainment. Future research can investigate policies and practices at high college-matching schools to explain how to improve college application behaviors.

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Sisyphus’ Fault: How the Shifting Terraine of a Changing Institution Can Make Curriculum Reform an “Impossible Task”

Molly Mande

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Hsieh, Betina

Abstract

  This case study of action research uses interviews, documents, observations, and field notes to trace the reform and implementation of the developmental English course at Pacific Sacred Heart University and explore the contextual factors that hindered the success of the reform. Data was collected from interviews with fifteen faculty members and administrators. Participants were selected based on their knowledge of or participation in the reform and/or implementation of the developmental English course. 

       The major finding highlights the significant effect recent major institutional change had on the culture of the institution. The data showed that vital factors of campus culture, including values and beliefs, norms, processes, symbols, and physical space, were no longer clearly defined, causing campus-wide division, confusion, fear, and frustration. This fractured culture had also led to unclear or conflicting leadership, lax hiring practices, and a diminished support system. Furthermore, the data suggested that these factors created a foundation for reform that was likely too unstable to produce meaningful change. The main implication of these findings is the importance of having stable campus culture before attempting further change in the form of reform. A secondary implication is that the potential for significant instability was likely already present before the institutional change occurred and is likely to persist. Thus, recommendations for practice include measures for stabilization—such as a campus-wide needs assessment—for growth—such as community development—and for fortification against future instability.

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Teacher Evaluation: A Qualitative Study on Growth-Producing Practices in K-8 Schools

Phoebe Manso

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Symcox, Linda

Abstract

Literature on teacher evaluation describes a flawed system that evokes wide-ranging attempts to “get it right”. This qualitative study is another effort that seeks to understand its legal and traditional constructs. The goal of this research is to identify growth-producing practices that will transform teacher evaluation into an organic and sustainable process that promotes professional growth.

Through the interview study design, 26 administrators and teachers shared their perceptions on growth-producing teacher evaluation practices in individualized 60-minutes in-depth interviews. The findings revealed that administrators’ over adherence to rules and legal structures limits the process into mere compliance which challenges the growth-model. Teachers’ perceptions centered on feedback as a key element in improving practice, and on the effectiveness of the evaluation tool and the evaluator as pivotal elements in teachers’ professional growth. The overarching theme targeted a collaborative culture that would thrive in a Constructivist Professional Community (CPC), a conceptual framework that was envisioned at the initial stage of the study, and later confirmed to be a feasible teacher evaluation model based on the study’s findings. The CPC model was formulated using Lambert’s (2012) Constructivist leadership theory and Wenger’s (2002) theory on Communities of Practice.

This dissertation recommends the creation of a Teacher Development Continuum, at the core of which is the organic and sustainable teacher evaluation process responsible for developing and evaluating teachers. The continuum will be systematically aligned to the collaborative culture of teacher evaluation using the Constructivist Professional Community (CPC) model.

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Formerly Incarcerated Black Males in Higher Education: Their Lived Experiences on a California Community College Campus

Laura H. Manyweather

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Ortiz, Anna and Olson, Avery

Abstract

After the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in October, 2015, community colleges were charged with retooling and preparing individuals for careers. Community colleges were designed to provide individuals an entryway into higher education (Beach, 2011). Formerly incarcerated Black male seek community college to assist in transitioning back into their communities, society and family life. Community colleges are a good place to provide these transitional and academic resources.

This qualitative study explores the shared experiences of sixteen formerly incarcerated Black male students attending three California community colleges. The study provides a better understanding of their background, experience while in college and their desire to complete college. Utilizing the Strayhorn and Johnsons’ (2014) Community College Satisfaction Model as the conceptual framework, this dissertation study examined their (a) background traits At Entry of college, (b) Student engagement Within the college, and (c) overall satisfaction with the Outcomes of college.

The study uses a phenomenological approach through qualitative interviews to capture the resources needed for formerly incarcerated Black male students who attend college in urban South Los Angeles, California. The interview questions were aligned with the research questions and conceptual framework. Findings revealed seven themes; Social Environment, Prison Industrial Complex, Perceptions of Education, Campus life, Aspirations, Activating Student Support and Mentoring. Drawing from Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth, the study reveals the participants had Aspirations and used their Social Capital.

Findings indicate that they experienced some type of trauma (Howard, 2017) and that Faculty and Student Support Services Staff were key support in their community college experience. Further their experiences in prison, affected their community college experience in these ways: hindered their social adaptation and maturation, prevented them from obtaining life skills, and blocked their educational attainment and continued stereotypes and stigmas. Programs like Umoja, EOPS, DSPS and Formerly Incarcerated Student clubs were key in their persistence.

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Social Capital, Academics, and Sense of Belonging Among High School Foster Youth

Hector H. Marquez

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Gamble, Brandon

Abstract

This study assessed the impact of sense of belonging and social capital as predictors of academic achievement among foster youths in an urban high school. Prior work on social capital by Dr. Ricardo Stanton-Salazar was extended by applying his concepts of institutional agents to foster youths. This study addressed four research questions:

1.     What resources are available for foster youths in the high school, and how are these accessed?

                2.     How does a sense of belonging relate and/or contribute to academic attainment?

3.     How do social capital networks relate or contribute to academic attainment?

4.     How does a course of study or program serve to define the experiences of students in foster care and influence their academic success?

How social capital networks relate or contribute to academic attainment is a fundamental question in foster youths’ academic achievement. This researcher argues that a new generation of research in this area should address the extent of foster youths’ academic achievement and outcomes. Previous research and current literature on students in foster care has focused on the negative aspects of academic achievement and has come from a deficit perspective. However, this study advances the understanding of social capital among foster youths in high school.

The findings showed the correlation between social capital and academic attainment

among foster youths in high school as well as how school districts can eliminate barriers and have open access to all classes and programs that benefit all students, especially those students who have been historically underrepresented. The research has implications for practitioners and policymakers in addressing the needs and concerns of students in foster care in educational settings. Recommendations included holding school districts and schools accountable for fully implementing the state of California’s Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plan requirements by having measurable academic outcomes for students in foster care.

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How Leadership and the Community Affected Veteran Teachers’ Decisions to

Remain Working in Urban Elementary Schools

David M. Morales

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Symcox, Linda

Abstract

Urban attrition is a paramount problem facing K–12 education. With a noted 50% of beginning teachers exiting education or transferring to suburban school environments, attrition negatively impacts a school’s ability to maintain an effective and stable teaching staff. This qualitative study set to examine how leadership and the community affected veteran teachers’ decisions to remain working in urban elementary schools. Utilizing the professional capital as accountability framework developed by Michael Fullan, Santiago Rincón-Gallardo, and Andy Hargreaves, this study examined the extent to which perceived leadership and community members affected 13 veteran teachers’ decisions to remain working in urban elementary schools. Utilizing interviews with teachers and principals along with artifact collections, some emerging themes included: making a difference in students’ lives, reciprocal trust, mutual respect, and love. Policy and practice recommendations were for districts and site principals to develop and support beginning teacher support programs that foster strong community–teacher relations and teacher involvement in parent-based organizations such as the Parent/Teacher Association. 

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Addressing the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Methods Associated with Participation in Student Government Organizations: A Qualitative Study of the California Community Colleges

Miles J. Nevin

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: O’Brien, Jonathan

Abstract

This document analysis synthesized student learning outcomes (SLOs) and assessment methods from a sample of 36 student government associations in the California Community College system. Student learning outcomes were grouped according to governance, ethical and civic behavior, and experiential learning functions. Using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Forehand, 2005) as an interpretive framework, findings revealed that this taxonomy’s six levels of cognitive development were well represented but not identically across the functions. In the governance function, the levels of understanding, evaluating, and creating were represented. In the ethical and civic behavior function, the levels of remembering, understanding, applying, and evaluating were represented. In the experiential learning function, all levels of the taxonomy were represented (remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating). Findings also reveal that three of the 36 institutions, including Cuesta College, Orange Coast College, and Saddleback College, all have explicit student learning outcome statements. One of those colleges, Orange Coast College, also utilizes a formal system of measuring students’ learning through implementation of assessment methods.  

Implications for practice and policy include new applications for institutional accreditation, revised policy for professional associations, and resources to guide creation of student learning outcomes for student government association participants.  Implications for research include the replication of the study in other higher education systems, and further analysis of individual colleges and groupings of colleges based on demographics.

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A Quantitative Evaluation of an Ability-Grouped Literacy Program in Elementary Grades

Lidiana Portales-Blair

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Richards-Tutor, Cara

Abstract

National assessments have shown that the majority of students in the United States cannot read at grade level by fourth grade. These results are alarming because students who are not proficient readers by third grade suffer long-term consequences and are more likely to drop out of high school. Feeling pressure to improve reading outcomes, schools have responded by implementing a wide range of interventions. One approach has been ability grouping, a system in which students of similar ability levels are grouped together for instruction.

This study conducted a quantitative program evaluation of a literacy program designed to accelerate reading achievement for students. The literacy program placed students reading below grade level into ability-grouped classrooms with reduced class sizes. Quantitative analyses were conducted on secondary student assessment data. First, the performance of students in the literacy program was compared against the performance of a pair-matched group of their peers not in the literacy program via an independent-samples t test. Then the students’ performance during the literacy program was compared to their performance in the previous school year via a dependent-samples t test. Finally, a chi-square test of independence was conducted for disproportionality of student subgroups.

The program evaluation found that, when students in the literacy program were compared to the pair-matched comparison group, the literacy program either had no effect or small, but statistically significant, negative effects. In contrast, the literacy program had positive effects when students in the literacy program were compared to their own prior performance. However, post-hoc analyses showed that all students, regardless of instructional placement, experienced significant growth during the same period. Therefore, it was not possible to attribute the growth to the literacy program. Finally, results showed that English learner students and students in special education were overrepresented in the literacy program. The study concluded that the literacy program was not substantively effective. The findings suggest that ability grouping did not improve student outcomes, concurring with existing literature. This conclusion, combined with potential implications for students, urges school leaders to reexamine ability grouping interventions.

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Getting H.I.P. with First-Generation College Students: Decolonizing the High Impact Practice Movement

Elizabeth M. Nunez

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Perez-Huber, Lindsay

Abstract

Undergraduate research is often regarded as the most powerful high impact practice because it encompasses several high impact practice strategies (e.g. faculty-student mentorship, collaborative learning, common intellectual experiences) within one experience. First-generation college students of color are often excluded from undergraduate research experiences due to inherently exclusionary practices and deficit perspectives regarding ability and interest. In an effort to combat the current master narrative, this single case study dissertation study explored the experience of first-generation college Students of Color participating in undergraduate research and the ways in which their undergraduate research experience might be racially and culturally validating for them as Students of Color. Culturally Responsive Education was the conceptual framework utilized which asserted the racialized and cultural experiences of this study’s participants as the compass which guided the research process (e.g. research questions, instrument development, data collection and analysis). This study found that providing a culturally validating undergraduate research experience for first-generation college Students of Color is possible if educational leaders are willing to provide and see the value in such an experience. Additionally, when first-generation college Students of Color are provided a culturally validating undergraduate research experience they can have a transformative experience with both short- and long-term benefits. Most importantly, the findings of this study begin to decolonize the high impact practice movement within higher education by challenging educational leaders and scholars to remove their deficit minded perceptions and approaches when supporting and working with first-generation college Students of Color.

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Implementation of Inclusion Practices K-12: From Compliance to Sustainability

Kimberly A. Shultz

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Scott, James

Abstract

There has been a strong movement since the reauthorization of PL 94-142 in 2004 and 2006 toward inclusionary practice for students with disabilities to receive instructional and social opportunities in the general education classroom Proponents of inclusionary practices believe that in order to provide an authentic least restrictive environment (LRE) for the growing population of identified students with disabilities, the learning environment needs to be a culture of inclusionary practice. Inclusion advocates assert that inclusion is a civil rights issue. Those rights include equal access to educational opportunities. This change in education involves various moving parts; thereby increasing the challenges for school district leaders.

School districts continue to grapple with special education service delivery models that best fit the special education students’ needs within a legal and educational context. A continuum of special education services is provided by school districts to meet the needs of special education students. Inclusion is a delivery model that is federally mandated and requires principal leadership, vision, and collaboration. The importance of educational leaders to transform educational settings for students with disabilities is crucial in preparing them to acquire the skills necessary to be college and career ready (Billingsley, McLesky & Crockett, 2014).

This qualitative study focused on district administrators representing 13 districts that have experience and knowledge in inclusive settings for students with disabilities. This study examined the process of inclusionary practices by exploring district administrator perceptions on the challenges district administrators face in the adoption, implementation, and sustainability incorporating inclusionary practices in district schools.

This study was based on a conceptual framework that synthesizes two theories: Fullan’s educational change theory and Schein’s organizational leadership theory. Together, these two theories provide a contextual lens to examine the experiences of district administrators who have developed and sustained inclusionary practices.

Data from this qualitative study included district administrator interviews. Participants in the study were 13 district administrators, who had knowledge and experiences with the district’s special education program. The participants interviewed had more than 3 years of administrative experience and were involved the development and success of inclusionary practices.

Analysis of this data yielded significant findings and recommendations in relation to the adoption, implementation, and sustainability of inclusive environments. Findings for this study confirm that in order for inclusion to be implemented teacher and principal participation is key. Administrators expressed professional development and time for collaboration as essential for sustainability. This study also contains recommendations for successful implementation of inclusion through the methods of collaboration, professional development, and communication.

The need for sustaining successful inclusive environments is a critical finding that will continue to apply to school districts as they continue to grapple with special education service delivery models that best fit the special education students’ needs within a legal and educational context.

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Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education: Impacting Campus Climate for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Lisa Mednick Takami

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Community College/Higher Education

Chair: Vega, William

Abstract

Chief Diversity Officers remain a relatively new phenomenon among higher education executive leadership positions. Existing literature on CDOs’ professional profile, their ability to impact campus climate for diversity, and their obstacles in the pursuit of campus climate change and deeper cultural transformation is still quite limited. This basic qualitative study explored the lived experiences of 13 chief diversity officers and two senior diversity professionals working at public colleges and universities in the United States.

Using the Racial Climate Framework (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pederson, & Allen, 1999; and Milem, Chang & Antonio, 2005) and White Institutional Presence (Gusa, 2010) as a conceptual lens, the study found that while CDOs come from a wide range of academic disciplines and professional backgrounds, they share key skill sets and a profound commitment to social justice change. Given a CEO’s backing and integrated campus partnerships and planning, CDOs can make significant impact on their institutions’ policies, practices, and systems such as diversity hiring and promotion, admissions criteria, and curriculum, though they must apply resilience, grit, and skill to confront the current socio-political context following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the broader pervasive manifestation of White privilege in U.S. higher education settings, and problems including insufficient budgets.

Findings provide a greater understanding of the professionalization of the higher education CDO role. Findings also revealed that CDOs strike a balance between addressing a campus’ past racial incidents and developing a hopeful and forward-looking mindset, and they engage race talk using both direct and indirect means. The CDO seeks structural changes to benefit historically marginalized students, faculty, and staff which transcend campus leadership including the CDO. CDOs of Color can experience the need to use White surrogates to be heard at work and distinguish executive advocacy from activism to their racial ethnic community. Recommendations are made to replicate best practices in CDO work, influence policy makers to consider procedures affecting historically marginalized populations, and conduct further qualitative and quantitative empirical inquiries on CDO leadership and the impact on the campus climate for diversity.

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Critical Moral Leadership: Toward Social Justice for English Learners

Gregory Wise

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Slater, Charles

Abstract

English learners (EL) account for approximately 10 percent of American public school students and a quarter of all public school students in the state of California. This student group, while already a sizable minority, is also the fastest growing group of students across the state and nation. Therefore, ways that public school systems meet, or fail to meet, the educational needs of EL students will have an increasingly significant impact on outcomes for public school students generally. However, English learners have traditionally experienced public education in very different ways from native English speaking students, ways that frequently restrict access to educational opportunities and further systemic forms of advantage for some student groups and disadvantage for others.

            The purpose of this research was to better understand the relationship between the philosophies, beliefs, and practices of educational leaders, and the experiences of English learners. A conceptual framework was developed that combined the theories of Applied Critical Leadership and Moral Leadership. This framework guided the development of an interview instrument to collect qualitative data in the form of participant beliefs and practices. These qualitative data were then compared to quantitative institutional data representing EL student placement in both higher-track and lower-track educational pathways in order to understand whether a relationship between the two sets of data existed. The sample included 11 participants who were educational leaders who worked directly with EL students. Quantitative data represented course placement data for approximately 8,000 students across three high school campuses within the same district.

            Findings from this research indicated that the beliefs and practices of educational leaders were consistent between schools serving demographically different communities, and that levels of equity or inequity, for English learners remained consistent on these disparate campuses. Furthermore, while all three schools had made recent progress in moving toward more equitable representation of EL students in various educational pathways, this progress may have been hindered by the lack of two leadership components, 1) the ability of educational leaders to engage site staff in critical conversations regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and language proficiency, and 2) the ability of educational leaders to extend collaborative decision-making processes beyond certificated staff members in order to include the diverse perspectives of classified staff, students, parents, and community members.

Based on the findings, recommendations are made for the establishment of systemic opportunities for educational leaders to employ specific leadership practices that may achieve greater levels of equity for traditionally underserved student groups, including English learners. 

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Digital Citizenship District-wide: Examining the Organizational Evolution of an Initiative

Vanessa M. Monterosa

California State University, Long Beach 2017

Specialization: Elementary/Secondary Education

Chair: Hsieh, Betina

District leaders play a pivotal role in shaping federally-mandated policies that impact how digital citizenship curriculum is developed and implemented in schools.  Yet, for many school leaders, teaching about digital participation may appear as a daunting and unfamiliar practice.  In fact, most educators do not participate in digital communities, in contrast to the large number of youth who do (Johnson et al., 2009; Lemke et al., 2009).  Yet, emerging research demonstrates that when students are given a structured opportunity to experience digital engagement in productive and constructive ways, students become producers rather than consumers of content and are able to develop an understanding of their digital participation in relation to their participation in society (Jenkins, 2009; Lee, 2015).

            For educators who want to delve into digital citizenship, there currently exists a plethora of resources to support teachers in classroom-level integration of digital citizenship, but supports and resources for system-level, implementation remain limited (CSM, 2009; ISTE, 2016).  Moreover, these resources represent varied conceptualizations of digital citizenship, which results in inconsistent implementations of digital citizenship across classrooms, schools, and districts.  Thus, how can district leaders such as superintendents, chief academic officers, or chief technology officers provide a cohesive and comprehensive digital citizenship program when the very conceptualization of digital citizenship remains unclear?

            The purpose of this study was to utilize an action research methodology to examine a large, urban school district’s approach to defining, developing, and maintaining a digital citizenship initiative focused on empowering students over the course of four years.  By documenting and unpacking the elements of a district-wide approach to digital citizenship, this study provides a foundation for systemic practices and a common language aimed at informing organizational policy and practice using Bolman and Deal’s (2013) Four-Frame Model with a particular focus on the political and symbolic frames.  Despite the concept of digital citizenship being in its infancy, this study provides an organizational perspective of its conceptualization and implementation across a large system.  Findings revealed that the district’s complex organizational efforts were rooted in decisions that facilitated the influence of digital citizenship across policy and program implementation efforts.  

 

 

last updated — Aug 31, 2017