Author: Green, Rupert A.

Dissertation Title: Attitudes and Perceptions of Vocational Education in New York City: Implications for the Mayor’s School Reform Initiative

Doctoral Degree: EDD

Chair: Bobbe   Cummins Colburn

Under-performing New York City (NYC) schools precipitated Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to advance a vocational education initiative. The initiative was to address the problem of the many city high school graduates lacking both the skills for gainful employment and the academic preparedness to pursue higher education. The mayor’s initiative also sought to address the problem of dropouts who inflated the state’s prisons population. Within its historical pedigree, vocational education demonstrated success in improving schools, as it likewise engendered stakeholders’ acceptance or rejection of its pedagogical practices. The NYC disposition regarding vocational education was unknown; such disposition could advance or retard the mayor’s initiative. This study, therefore, served to explore the attitudes and perceptions of samples from 109 qualified respondents constituting NYC stakeholders and graduates of a NYC vocational education school (H.S. Doe Graduates). Participants’ attitudes and perceptions were assessed based on (a) NYC borough of residence, (b) vocation/profession, (c) race/ethnicity, (d) gender, (e) educational level, and (f) H.S. Doe graduates’ demographic characteristics. Multi-theoretical frameworks, including vocational education, social cognitive, attitude, social reproduction, attribution; cultural-ecological and social cognitive career theories, grounded the study. A nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis H test introduced an inferential statistical element which aided macro-analysis; descriptive statistics (including frequencies, means, standard deviations, medians) facilitated micro- analysis. Macro-analysis answered the broad research question; micro-analysis provided details. In addition, content analysis facilitated qualitative data analysis. With the exception of borough of residence, no statistically relevant/significant differences for NYC vocational education were recorded between stakeholders and the variables examined. A Kruskal-Wallis H examined the mean rankings of stakeholders’ vocational education attitudinal data and found that the groups differ by borough of residence, ÷2 (4, N = 54) = 9.752, p = .045, with a mean rank of 38. 38 for Brooklyn, 30.83 for Bronx, 23.77 for Manhattan, 20.73 for Queens, and 13.67 for Staten Island. Low and unequal sample sizes were limitations. Recommendations from the findings included a more expansive study involving NYC vocational education students, expanding vocational education to earlier grades, community involvement, establishment of a vocational education school for gifted students, and the reformation of NYC vocational schools.

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