Graduation Date

12-2014

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Second Reader

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D

Abstract

The skills taught and the courses offered to the United States’ public high school students have changed drastically over the past 20 years. Career-based electives have given way to college preparatory classes. Gone are the auto shops, construction and home economics classes—courses that many view as outdated, dangerous or unnecessary at the high school level. Arts and humanities-based courses have also disappeared; even courses that can train students to enter the robust fields of healthcare or technology are diminishing (Dare, 2006).

The communities in which many of these courses are disappearing are often diverse and economically disadvantaged. This “second-generation segregation” which materializes as differentiated course offerings for students from various backgrounds may lend some insight into explaining the current inequities in student achievement (Southworth & Mickelson, 2007, p. 498). Perhaps students are disconnecting from their public education due to the loss of access to varied learning opportunities.

The purpose of this mixed-method research study is to examine the impact of high school coursework on students’ perception of their post-secondary options. Current high school students and their school counselor are interviewed in an effort to determine if particular coursework, for better or worse, has any effect at all on a student’s self-perception and what they see as a feasible option for their future.

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