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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cultural Encounters at Green Door Theater’s After-School Program: Looking Inside the “Black Box” of Everyday Participation

  • Author(s): Eisenhauer, Scarlett
  • Advisor(s): Weisner, Thomas S
  • et al.

This dissertation examines youths’ experiences at a theater after-school program (ASP) using data collected through a mixed methods research protocol. The lens through which participatory frameworks at Green Door Theater’s ASP are examined over a range of levels from individuals and their psychophysiology, youth and teachers actively co-constructing the ecocultural context, to understanding the program in relation to school more broadly. Data were collected during the 2015-2016 academic school year. Adding to the growing body of process oriented ASP research, the dissertation engages with the microprocesses that occur as part of youths’ learning and developmental contexts, rather than strictly focusing on an outcome analysis. Chapter 1 introduces the theoretical and literature that is relevant to the dissertation. Chapter 2 characterizes the methodology, study participants and field site to give the broad context of the research project. It also includes a theoretical discussion of Green Door Theater’s (GDT) program in relation to the concept of “cultural competencies” and “cross roads.” Chapters 3 and 4 present electrodermal activity as part of an ethnographic research protocol in order to triangulate data regarding subjective experience. The method is applied to understanding how, and in what myriad ways, well-being may come to fruition at GDT. Chapter 5 examines the multi-modal co-construction of space as a possible mechanism for supporting components of “quality” programs. Since attendance at ASPs does not necessitate positive outcomes or experiences, it is important to not only understand what components help create quality programming, but also in what ways those components are created through practice. In Chapter 6, I present the concept of the micro temporal arc as a possible lesson planning tool to capture and sustain engagement in the program over time. This chapter is intended to be oriented towards those designing ASPs in a more practical way. In order to understand how the program relates to the youths’ time at schools, Chapter 7 compares two contexts through a statistical analysis of questionnaire responses and qualitative ethnographic data. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of some concluding thoughts, including some room for program improvement and future research.

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