Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Pickle, Judy

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Community and school--Illinois--Case studies; School environment--Illinois--Case studies; Education; Secondary--Illinois--Case studies


The purpose of this study was to understand how people develop a learning community in a new school. Using qualitative methods, students, parents, and staff were interviewed in focus groups and individually about their experiences relative to the characteristics of a learning community at a new high school. The research questions that guided the study asked what factors did the participants view as important in the shaping of community and what factors characterized the emerging community at the first-year stage of development. The study reveals four general factors that were important in shaping the community: a sense of belonging, interaction and participation in communal activities, shared values and beliefs, and dynamical power and influence within the community. The study also revealed that building community in schools is a paradox. The efforts to create community that attempt to identify shared values, beliefs, and practices among members may exacerbate issues of boundaries and exclusion for “non-members”. Implications for educators include the need to nurture relationships between members, to be prepared to embrace conflict within the community, and to face challenges from the outside environment. In facing such challenges, the administrators and leaders need to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, acknowledge alternate solutions, and understand multiple levels of goodness in order to ensure the health and longevity of a new school community.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [173]-184).


vii, 194 pages




Northern Illinois University

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