Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Richard P. Manatt

Second Advisor

Charles E. Railsback


Schools today, especially large comprehensive high schools, are besieged with studies, critiques, and proposals for reform. Many critics have exposed factors that contribute to putting our nation at risk because of its schools. Despite reports targeted on the weaknesses of high school education, constructive attempts are being made to study root causes and implement changes that work to improve and make lasting changes in the schools. As early as 1945, a body of research has focused on improving high schools by fully understanding student culture and promoting ideas and structures which facilitate improvements in student culture. It is believed that significant changes can be made by addressing factors that improve school culture, particularly student culture;The purpose of this study was to describe the student culture and the organizational factors or school-related factors that influence the student culture. Qualitative methodology was employed, and the study was conducted in two phases during 10 days at Crosstown High School;During phase 1, data were collected using individual and small group interviews, examining artifacts, and observing students in their daily activities. The interviews were used to gain an emic perspective of the shared beliefs, values, and basic assumptions held by students that reflect the students' culture. Three hundred and twenty-one students in grades 9-12 participated in the research study. The observation of several events and the examination of artifacts supplied valuable information about the student culture of Crosstown High School;During phase II, data were collected using individual and small group interviews. Interview questions for all interviews were designed to glean information about each of the factors of this study from the experiences of those interviewed. Phase II was also designed to verify the accuracy of the data collected during phase I;The data were analyzed by the researcher to identify the commonly shared and unique beliefs held by the students. Interview data revealed eight common beliefs among students at Crosstown High School. The essence of the Crosstown High School student culture is stable, strong, and positive. Student engagement factors of school membership and authentic work are present in the students' beliefs. Six organization systems factors were found to impact the students' culture at Crosstown High School.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Charles Milton Green



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189 pages