Conceptions of Student Success Within an Urban Alternative Learning Program

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Conceptions of Student Success Within an Urban Alternative Learning Program

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Success is a term that is often used in educational contexts, but it can be elusive and difficult to define. Furthermore, articulating what student success is, and who has agency over it, can influence the efficacy of the social actors charged with impacting it. This qualitative, grounded theory study pursues two research questions: 1) How is success conceptualized at an urban alternative secondary school? and 2) How is student success depicted to those outside of that school? My analysis of the data that I collected revealed that teachers’ conception of success inside of the school was quite different from the external narrative depicted by the school website and within programmatic, informative materials like the student enrollment application and the student handbook. Furthermore, the tension between this internal conception of student success and the differing external narrative framed a struggle for the teachers, one that they felt that they were continually engaged in, a struggle to build and maintain their collective efficacy and to legitimate their work as professional educators to those outside of the school.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2015. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Mistilina Sato. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 140 pages.

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Mitchler, Jenna. (2015). Conceptions of Student Success Within an Urban Alternative Learning Program. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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