Doctoral Dissertation Research: School-Based Education as an Agent of Socialization
Mary Nell Trautner Principal Investigator
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SES-1303573 <br/>Mary Nell Trautner<br/>Sarah Smith<br/>SUNY at Buffalo<br/><br/>What roles do organizations and institutions play in the socialization of youths? By exploring students' accounts of their experiences with school staff, the researcher will conduct an organizational analysis to better understand the role that schools have in the socialization of youth. In particular, the researcher will complete an analysis of school-based health education, which represents a formalized, institutional attempt to foster a particular set of dispositions to health. The research will examine school based sex education (SBSE) where the training is based on assumptions about its preventative potential for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Prior research, however, does not address how young people make sense of SBSE so that it may have these intended effects. Similarly, analyses of SBSE policy, rhetoric, and curricula tend to focus on the ways in which adults perceive SBSE, with scant focus on students' perceptions. In contrast, studies of social learning focus on young people?s exposure to messages about sex and sexuality from other sources such as media, religion, family, and school contexts beyond the SBSE classroom. This research bridges literature on SBSE with research on how youth interpret messages about sex and sexuality. In interviews with 60 boys and girls from one low-achieving and one-high achieving school in Western New York, the analyses will address how young people describe SBSE, in what ways young people describe SBSE as having influences on their attitudes about sex, and differences in the stories youth tell across race, class, and gender, and other characteristics.<br/><br/>Broader Impact<br/><br/>This project will introduce new scholars from underrepresented groups to the field of social science through the use of a diverse group of undergraduate assistants. Undergraduate assistants will gain valuable knowledge and experience in social science research methods. Through their participation as research assistants, undergraduate students will have access to data for their student theses. Further, the researcher will solicit feedback from the academic community (i.e., via conference presentations and correspondence with experts in the field), as well as local practitioners in the field (i.e., sex education teachers, school nurses, etc.) and in-turn, provide post-analysis presentations to both academic and public audiences.