Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Caroline Heller

Second Advisor

Peter Cormier

Third Advisor

Priscilla Sanville


The aim of my dissertation research is to understand the relationship between interdisciplinary arts experiences and the establishment of a community culture in a mainstream public high school in northeast United States. With this research, I hope to provide evidence to support the inclusion of interdisciplinary arts projects in the fabric of students’ high school curricular and extra-curricular experiences. Through engagement in design, art, video, music, dance, theater and the close study of a minority culture, high school participants provided regular responses to planned survey questions and open-ended survey questions (Experience Sampling), as well as through interviews, written prompts and my own field observations. This mixed-method approach allowed for a deep consideration of the pedagogical and social conditions necessary for students to experience a positive “psychological sense of community” (McMillan and Chavis, 1989).

My research attempted to answer the following overarching questions:

  • How does the collaboration of diverse participants from a community in a high school setting influence a student’s broader idea of what community means?
  • How does immersion into an unfamiliar culture through interdisciplinary learning impact a participant’s perception of being a member of a global community?
  • Do interdisciplinary arts performance projects build a sense of community for students in a school setting, and if so why and how?
  • How do elements of democratic learning (Wyatt, 1999), creative design opportunities and moments of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997) contribute to a student’s feeling of being an essential member of a community?

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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