CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

Using Computing Technology in an Interdisciplinary Theater Curriculum for Urban High School Seniors

Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Abstract

In response to the technology explosion and to poor student performance on standardized exams nationwide, new education standards are being created at the federal, state and local levels. Yet, with all these innovations and a renewed focus on high schools, students graduate under-prepared for the job market or for higher education. Moreover, they lack the motivation to make the most of their final year of high school. This dissatisfaction promotes a systemic disengagement that is exacerbated in the exit year, known as senioritis.

Fifty New York City high school seniors participated in a study to determine whether participation in a technology-infused, interdisciplinary program would encourage them to maintain their grades and attendance. The Experimental Group was comprised of 25 seniors involved in Art, Theater, Music, and Business classes. The Control Group was created from the remaining senior student body. A pool of Control Group students matching each Experimental Group participant in gender, academic average, and number of days absent was created. From each pool of matches, a Control Group participant was randomly selected.

The common goal of the Experimental Group was the successful production of a play. This team effort brought together students and teachers in all involved disciplines. Students in this skills driven, results-oriented environment developed the 21th Century workplace skills of collaboration, creativity and cross-disciplinary thinking. Further, they applied their existing software skills, learned new ones as the need presented itself, and employed the appropriate technology tool for the task at hand. At term's end, academic averages and attendance records of both groups were compared using the data from the last term of the junior year as a baseline. While both groups maintained their academic averages, the Experimental Group also maintained its attendance. There was no significant difference between the two terms in the number of days absent of the Experimental Group. However, the Control Group significantly increased the number of days absent as compared with the previous term. The data suggests that one remedy for senioritis is engaging seniors in a technology rich, authentic workplace environment that cultivates 21 $I Century workplace skills.

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