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Who cares? Who doesn’t? An exploration of perceptions of care based on the experiences of secondary school students from different economic groups

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Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
Date created
This qualitative study analyzes the perspectives of secondary students from different economic backgrounds and how they do or do not experience care in their schools. A secondary finding determines that the economic status of these same students is often a contributing factor to how they perceive care. The theoretical framework for this study is anchored in the work of Nel Noddings and others who have contributed to the ever-growing body of knowledge regarding ethics of care in an educational context. The main objective of this study was to better understand how students from different economic groups come to define and perceive care. A second theoretical framework is anchored in the works of Pierre Bourdieu for a comprehensive understanding of economic status, Bob Mullaly for oppression, bell hooks, Jonathan Kozol, and Ruby Payne for understanding poverty in an educational context, and Madeline Levine and Suniya Luthar for privilege and the culture of affluence respectively. The study used a grounded theory method and data collection included semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and field notes. The study found that economic status affects student perceptions of care. The research findings describe how students from different economic backgrounds define and perceive care. A discussion of the findings gives possible reasons why one group of students may perceive care differently from another. Since care is (or should be) a central part of education, this research has implications for educators and subsequently for teacher education programs and could enhance the school experiences of all youth regardless of their economic status.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Cassidy, Wanda
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etd6707_KMcDowell.pdf 1.47 MB

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