Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Shaping school culture to transform education : an ethnographic study of New Technology high schools
Author: Denton-Calabrese, Tracey
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 951X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
There have been numerous calls for the radical transformation of public education in the United States. Reform initiatives are fuelled by the need to prepare students to meet the challenges of the networked knowledge society. This thesis examines the shaping of school culture within two public non-charter high schools, in different regions of the United States and with different socioeconomic characteristics, that are implementing the "New Technology" (or "New Tech") model of education: Pacific Coast High, a well-established New Tech school, and Midwest High, a school that recently transitioned to the model and is still in the process of culture change. This rapidly expanding school reform network includes 168 schools in the United States and 7 international sites in Australia. The New Tech Network, the organisation that provides training and support for these schools, explicitly emphasises the goal of changing the culture of education. They describe themselves as a network of schools that promotes a culture of trust, respect, and responsibility and uses project-based learning and "smart use" of technology to redefine teaching and learning. I employed an ethnographic multisite case study design to gain an understanding of the everyday experiences and practices of teachers, students and school leaders as they work through the process of implementing and maintaining the New Tech model. Fieldwork included six and a half months of participant observation of secondary classrooms, school meetings, professional development sessions, and New Tech training conferences as well as semi-structured interviews with teachers, students, and administrators. My analysis provides an understanding of the influence of local context, including historical background (local and national) and economic and political structures. The research findings indicate that a deliberate focus on 'culture-building', with particular values like trust, respect and responsibility, underpin and shape relationships, behaviours and educational practices, including the extensive use of ICTs. A multi-faceted approach to socialisation and enculturation, which includes extensive peer-to-peer support, is involved in inculcating values and shaping behaviours and practices. The New Tech model shifts the focus of education from a primarily individualist competitive endeavour (reflecting the broad cultural orientations of modern society in the United States) to a more collectivist approach, with students working in collaborative groups supported by the use of ICTs. Schools operate as learning communities with collaborative partnerships with the wider community. Pacific Coast High is an exemplar for the model in its fully implemented form, while Midwest High's transition to the model has been fraught with tensions as they navigate numerous context-specific challenges. I argue that real reform requires an intentional effort to change the culture of education and that pedagogy and culture have to necessitate the use of ICTs to more fully integrate them into the education process. I characterise the culture I observed in New Tech schools, particularly at Pacific Coast, as an 'ICT-facilitating school culture' with (1) a collaborative project-based focus and encouragement of students to communicate and find information themselves which pushes them to use ICTs, (2) a system of cultural values that, when internalised, operates as a means of social control, keeping students on task as they work independently and collaboratively, using ICTs, including social networking sites, and (3) an ideal classroom layout and technology infrastructure that facilitates the use of ICTs. I characterise the New Tech Network of schools as a revitalization movement, addressing the needs of a changing society by changing the culture of education.
Supervisor: Eynon, Rebecca Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computer-assisted instruction ; Educational Technology ; School Culture ; Education Reform in the United States ; New Tech Schools ; Project-based learning ; Enculturation ; Education reform ; Educational technology ; School culture ; Knowledge society ; Ethnographic case study ; Network society ; Socialisation