Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education & Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Frank LaBanca, EdD

Second Advisor

Diana Payne, PhD

Third Advisor

Marcia A. B. Delcourt, PhD


Place-Based schools are a viable alternative to failing schools, and are an essential tool in closing the American education achievement gap. This study assessed stakeholders’ perception of the value of Place-Based curricula using a qualitative, multi-case design with an ethnographic stance. The researcher examined how success was determined and measured for students who attended schools with Place-Based curricula. Measures of success were identified by analyzing results of stakeholder interviews and triangulated evidence from various sources. Framed through Situated Cognition and Critical Pedagogy theories, this study challenged the notion that success should be defined primarily as performance on standardized tests. Twenty-two interviews were conducted with mentor/supervisors, educators, and parents at three urban, low socio-economic status, maritime-themed Place-Based schools in the Northeastern United States. Analysis of these stakeholders’ interviews yielded themes that defined, assessed, and indicated stakeholder perception of student success. During the course of these interviews, stakeholders identified measures of success that focused on career and college preparation, attainment of real world soft skills, and sense of community. Triangulated data indicated that all sites had graduation rates exceeding their local urban cohort schools. Subjects saw the essential importance of sense of community to Place-Based schools, which is conspicuously absent in traditional underperforming schools. These community relations were complex: students interacting with students, students interacting with educators and supervisors, and students within the entire Place-Based community interacting with the surrounding place community. The sense of community within a local place is considered more than just a byproduct of Place- Based schools; it is a hallmark of the mission to support students in becoming citizens of a functional democracy.