• Theme & Variations: a content analysis of syllabi in introduction to urban education courses

      Thurman, S. Kenneth; Smith, Michael W. (Michael William), 1954-; Davis, James Earl, 1960-; Schifter, Catherine; Farley, Frank (Temple University. Libraries, 2016)
      This qualitative study examines the teaching of urban education in introductory and foundational college courses. The research positions course syllabi as ubiquitous public documents that socialize students into discourse communities, and is framed within theories of social constructivism. An examination of course objectives, course assignments, and core required texts revealed varying levels of consistency in the stated learning outcomes on all (n = 31) syllabi. Overall, five conceptual approaches to introductory courses in urban education emerged: 1) schools and the social order; 2) historical perspective; 3) education policy analysis; 4) professional practice, pedagogy and research persona; and 5) teacher as change agent. Shared organizing features of all syllabi included references to education inequity, social stratification, structural racism, poverty, and social justice; however, the degree of topic emphasis varied substantially. Closer alignment between course objectives and course assignments was identified in two conceptual frameworks: a) schools and the social order and b) education policy analysis. However, minimal alignment between course objectives and assignments was identified on syllabi in c) professional practice, pedagogy; d) teacher as change agent; and e) historical perspective approaches. A review of core texts on the syllabi revealed notable consensus about required titles. Urban education is a field of study inhabited by many different academic disciplines. These findings suggest that for the field’s introductory courses, greater coherence of conceptual approaches and closer alignment of assignments with objectives deserve to be carefully considered.