Purdue University Graduate School
Santana_Thesis.pdf (1.61 MB)

Risks and Rewards of Reshaping High Schools: A Case Study of a Novel Polytechnic High School Model and Student Perceptions Entering College

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posted on 2022-07-29, 13:53 authored by Vanessa Elizabeth SantanaVanessa Elizabeth Santana


The purpose of this research was to understand: (1) how students perceive a polytechnic high school model in relation to students’ college and career readiness, as well as (2) the challenges and successes that this type of school model presents, from the student perspective, after attending a semester of higher education at the model's collaborating university. To address these two research objectives, the authors conducted a case study of a novel public-charter high school developed by a state’s flagship research-intensive university in partnership with community, industry, and academic leaders. What makes this polytechnic high school model unique is its focus on supporting urban youth to pursue passions through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) focused experiences, that are situated within industry-driven, hands-on projects, and a personalized learning environment. More specifically, this study examined the perceptions of this polytechnic high school model from its active senior class as well as its first graduating class after matriculating to the collaborating university. This study was conducted to better comprehend the model in relation to students’ college and career readiness (defined here as 21st century skills [creativity, communication, and collaboration], sense of belonging, and college/career intent). This was achieved by analyzing beginning of the year survey results from one school’s current seniors, as well as administering pre- and post-surveys to graduates of the unique polytechnic high school as students began and ended their first semester of post-secondary education at the collaborating university. In addition, data were obtained from a focus group with the alumni after completion of the first semester at the collaborating university. The resulting data were then analyzed to identify the participants perception of the innovative school model in relation to students’ 21st century skills, sense of belonging, college/career intent, as well as determining the challenges and successes encounter after transitioning to the collaborating university. While this research discusses the outcomes of a case study specifically focused on a polytechnic high school that is an innovative school-university collaborative model, the resulting data can be used to provide more information surrounding innovative educational approaches so that schools, educators, and other educational stakeholders have the necessary information needed to make informed decisions as they attempt to transform secondary learning experiences in response to societal changes.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Technology Leadership and Innovation

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Greg Strimel

Additional Committee Member 2

Todd Kelley

Additional Committee Member 3

David Sears

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