As the 2012-2013 academic year draws to a close, Penn IUR will host the 10th Annual Urban Doctoral Symposium to highlight the work of four exemplary graduating doctoral students that represent Penn’s interdisciplinary urban scholarship. On behalf of Penn IUR, we would like to congratulate the following graduating doctoral students, and celebrate their excellent work.
“Imagining the City: Community-Based Art and the Experience of Urban Diversity”
Community-based arts organizations articulate particular visions of urban diversity. In the case of majority-white, politically progressive community-based arts organizations working for urban transformation, the vision of urban diversity articulated in public is often at odds with the ways in which diversity is understood and lived within the organizations themselves as well as in the private lives of participants. Rather than simply a “failure,” blind spot, or contradictory reinforcement of white privilege, however, the visions of urban diversity advanced by different community- arts organizations point to the powerful relationship between culture and place, as well as the importance of symbolic aspects of community and the use of arts.
The tension between urban diversity as it is lived-in isolation-and as it is imagined-in interaction-is often experienced as racialized conflict, even in cultural projects dedicated to multiracial community. And yet this tension also serves to highlight the importance of the imagination for urban transformation, and the role of culture in a diverse democracy. Based on fieldwork at three Philadelphia community-arts organizations, this paper explores the way that culture influences understanding of urban diversity and offers a comparative analysis of the use of urban art in service of multiracial community.
“The Impact of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy on the Recidivism of High Risk Probationers: Results from a Randomized Trial”
This dissertation addresses the impact that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can have on criminal recidivism. Though research has shown that CBT programs are a promising intervention to modify criminogenic behaviors, the rigor and characteristics of these evaluations vary significantly. For example, there have been few attempts to conduct randomized evaluations in an urban, community corrections environment. This project addresses this gap, with a focus on reducing crime within a population determined to be at a high risk of serious offending. The Philadelphia Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD) has partnered with researchers from the Jerry Lee Center (JLC) at the University of Pennsylvania to conduct a randomized control trial (RCT) exploring the use of advanced risk forecasting methodologies. By randomly assigning identified probationers to receive either an intensive probation protocol or an intensive probation in conjunction with life skills intervention, the impact of the CBT program can be evaluated. This dissertation reports on twelve-month outcomes, including the frequency and prevalence of offending across multiple offense classifications.
“The Effects of Intradistrict School Mobility and Student Turnover Rates on Early Reading Achievement”
A number of studies have identified school mobility as one form of school disengagement that is disproportionately harmful for young children enrolled in large urban districts. However, these findings vary substantially, with some studies actually evidencing positive associations between school mobility and academic outcomes. Researchers have attributed these highly variable results to a lack of precision in the research to date. The primary aim of this study was to respond to these research limitations from a development-ecological perspective by assessing the concurrent (recent), cumulative (number of moves), and contextual (high student turnover rates) effects of intradistrict school mobility on early reading achievement. This was accomplished using longitudinal administrative school records for an entire cohort of students enrolled in a large urban district from first through third grade. Findings indicated that students with a concurrent intradistrict school move had lower reading achievement scores at the end of each grade compared to children who did not change schools. Cumulative intradistrict school mobility was also associated with poor reading achievement by the end of third grade. Students enrolled in schools with high turnover rates demonstrated worse reading achievement after accounting for individual school mobility experiences, and this effect worsened as children reached third grade. The evidence from this study suggests that the population of students making intradistrict school moves needs to be a priority for educational policymakers.
“The Relationship Between Teacher Turnover and School Performance in New York City’s Middle Schools”
Nationally, almost fifty percent of teachers quit within their first five years (Ingersoll, 2001). In New York City, over half of middle school teachers leave their schools after three years (Marinell, 2011). Researchers have produced thousands of studies to understand teacher turnover (Guarino et al., 2006). Few, however, have explored the effects of teacher turnover on schools (Ronfeldt et al., 2013). The lack of research on the relationship between teacher turnover and school performance is not only a gap in the academic literature, but is also a practical problem for policy makers and school leaders. This dissertation seeks to fill this gap by analyzing the relationship between school-level teacher turnover and school performance in New York City’s middle schools. Multi-level, longitudinal models are used to (1) uncover the directionality of the relationship between rates of teacher turnover and school performance; (2) analyze how high levels of short term and longer term teacher turnover relate to school performance; and (3) explore how leadership quality moderates the relationship between teacher turnover and school performance. Findings show mixed results. In some cases high levels of teacher turnover contribute to lower levels of school performance, and in some cases these results are moderated by school leadership. In other cases, turnover appears unrelated to school performance. The study has implications for contextual quantitative research, the literature on teacher turnover, and education policy related to teacher turnover.