Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Tonette S. Rocco

First Advisor's Title

Associate Professor

Second Advisor's Name

Joan Wynne

Second Advisor's Title

Associate Professor

Keywords

exclusionary discipline, critical social practice, critical microethnography, nondominant students, critical theory of literacy, qualitative methodology, alternative education, reconceptualizing teacher education, disenfranchised students

Date of Defense

11-12-2009

Abstract

Exclusionary school discipline results in students being removed from classrooms as a consequence of their disruptive behavior and may lead to subsequent suspension and/or expulsion. Literature documents that nondominant students, particularly Black males, are disproportionately impacted by exclusionary discipline, to the point that researchers from a variety of critical perspectives consider exclusionary school discipline an oppressive educational practice and condition. Little or no research examines specific teacher-student social interactions within classrooms that influence teachers’ decisions to use or not use exclusionary discipline. Therefore, this study set forth the central research question: In relation to classroom interactions in alternative education settings, what accounts for teachers’ use or non-use of exclusionary discipline with students? A critical social practice theory of learning served as the framework for exploring this question, and a critical microethnographic methodology informed the data collection and analysis.

Criterion sampling was used to select four classrooms in the same alternative education school with two teachers who frequently and two who rarely used exclusionary discipline. Nine stages of data collection and reconstructive data analysis were conducted. Data collection involved video recorded classroom observations, digitally recorded interviews of teachers and students discussing selected video segments, and individual teacher interviews. Reconstructive data analysis procedures involved hermeneutic inferencing of possible underlying meanings, critical discourse analysis, interactive power analysis and role analysis, thematic analysis of the interactions in each classroom, and a final comparative analysis of the four classrooms.

Four predominant themes of social interaction (resistance, conformism, accommodation, and negotiation) emerged with terminology adapted from Giroux’s (2001) theory of resistance in education and Third Space theory (Gutiérrez, 2008). Four types of power (normative, coercive, interactively established contracts, and charm), based on Carspecken’s (1996) typology, were found in the interactions between teacher and students in varying degrees for different purposes.

This research contributes to the knowledge base on teacher-student classroom interactions, specifically in relation to exclusionary discipline. Understanding how the themes and varying power relations influence their decisions and actions may enable teachers to reduce use of exclusionary discipline and remain focused on positive teacher-student academic interactions.

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