All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Andrew McKnight

Advisory Committee Members

John A Dantzler

Michele Jean Sims

Dayna M Watson

Alan L Webb

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


Much research has focused on the significant benefits of integrating arts into general education curriculum, creating community partnerships for arts education, and including arts as stand-alone curriculum for students. Despite a thriving network of fine and performing arts secondary schools in America, there have been few efforts to articulate the phenomenon of immersive, secondary arts schools, their existence, and the experiences and possible benefits to their students within the schools’ cultures, structures, and curricula. Using a constructivist epistemology and a grounded theory methodology, twelve recent graduates of an immersive, secondary arts school in Birmingham, Alabama, the Alabama School of Fine Arts, were interviewed about their perspectives on their experiences as students for four to six years and the impact of the school’s culture, structure, and curriculum. The results of this study emerged as a conceptual model representing the participants’ perspectives and understanding of the process they experienced as students. This model, which represents the common experiences described by the participants, is composed of six categories: (a) contextual factors of recent graduates’ previous schooling experiences before discovering an immersive, secondary arts school (b) the role of being driven towards something (c) group identity development (d) the role and interplay of iv critique consciousness and critical consciousness (e) artist identity development (f) results of recent graduate’s experiences at an immersive, secondary arts school.

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