Five Master of Arts in Education candidates presented their thesis topics to the Antioch University Santa Barbara community on Wednesday, June 3, by constructing posters showing their work and to spark conversations about their chosen subjects. The five students – Shawn Amaro, Mark Duran, Courtney Fleming, Charlene Macharia, and Heather Young – gathered in a classroom packed with staff, faculty, students, and members of the public to discuss their work.
Their topics and abstracts were as follows:
Shawn Amaro: Professional Tensions in Correctional Schools
The purpose of this paper is to identify the potential for conflict between correctional officers and correctional educators. Research shows that pay, benefits, and promotional opportunities vary between correctional officers and correctional educators despite the fact they both work in a prison setting with potentially dangerous individuals. The research design was mixed method, including qualitative interviews and an ethnographic viewpoint. This paper includes a prison tour, interviews with two current correctional officers, and interviews with two former correctional educators. The study shows that there is indeed conflict present between correctional officers and correctional educators. The scale of the conflict is often determined on a personal level and is on a case by case basis between correctional employees.
Mark Duran: Integrating Social Justice and Environmentalism
Some educators and educational theorists have proposed that to make education more relevant, and address a degrading environment and worsening social conditions, we should teach from an awareness of the fundamental interdependence of these usually segregated areas of study. Some scholars, such as Friere, have promoted the necessity of an educational context of social justice. Others, such as Sobel, have placed the focus on environmental literacy and restoration. Still others, most notably Gruenwald, have suggested that these traditions have a deep and necessary natural affinity. This qualitative study uses interviews, ethnographic research, and force field analysis, to investigate the current status of educational organizations and individuals that attempt to unify the themes of environmental restoration/justice with social justice/restoration. So far, results indicate that such educational endeavors are rare in practice, usually take place in small private schools, and face both institutional and practical resistance.
Courtney Fleming: Sources of Conflict in an Elementary Classroom
In a First Grade classroom with 20 different personalities, conflict is bound to arise. The purpose of this study was to determine the themes, context, and role of gender in First Grade conflicts. With an action research design, I had the specific intention of creating small-scale change and improving my classroom practice. I collected my data in the form of daily reflective journals with a deep reflection and analysis into the conflicts of my first grade classroom. This paper will include background research about how children, ages 5-10, create and respond to conflict with other children. Some researchers claim that conflict in the classroom originates from prior and current familial experiences while some argue that attachment to parents may have to do with a child’s ability to handle conflict that arises. As a First Grade teacher, I was in a unique position to conduct the research in my own classroom during the 2014-2015 school year.
Charlene Macharia: Building Positive Communities
Isla Vista history is rooted in music and the arts though there have been periods of time where artistic expression decreased. Following the increased crime rates in 2014 and the tragedy that happened in Isla Vista resulting in the killing of 6 UCSB students, Isla Vista First Friday (IVFF) was created as a means of positively shifting the culture. IVFF is a musical and artistic event that occurs at a park in Isla Vista every First Friday of the month and IV Open Lab is the UCSB course that meets weekly to plan IVFF and engages in other collaborative art projects. My research will gauge the impact of IVFF on students, other Isla Vista community members and the culture of the city in general, as well as evaluate IV Open Lab as model to re-think and reform the education system. I used quantitative data in the form of a survey that was passed out during some of the Isla Vista First Friday (IVFF) events and an online survey as an end of year evaluation for students and community members. I also used qualitative data in the form of interviews of the art professor who started IVFF, the student and community members involved in organizing as well as those who just attended the events. The results are tentative as since data collection is still in progress.
Heather Young: Evaluating FOSS Science Programs
My research is a program evaluation of the implementation of a science curriculum called Full Option Science System (FOSS). Force Field Analysis was applied to see what factors helped and impeded teachers in the implementation of the FOSS program. I used quantitative data in the form of two electronic surveys sent to teachers, one in 2014 and the other in 2015, to inquire of their individual application of the program. In addition to the quantitative data, I used qualitative data in the form of three interviews; two science consultants and one administrator from a school district. They were asked as to why the FOSS program was selected and how might the district aid teachers in their execution of the program. The results were mixed and suggest that more time was needed for implementation and fidelity to the program was not consistent.