Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth

Third Advisor

Richard Kitchen


21st century, Knowledge and skills development, AmeriTowne program, Constructivism, Contextualized learning, Experiential simulations, Situated learning


This study investigated how the AmeriTowne program supported learning and incorporated 21st century knowledge and skills development for fifth graders through the use of an experiential simulation. Relatively few studies examine simulated learning generally, and this study is one of few that provides insight into AmeriTowne's unique approach by describing, interpreting, and appraising the intentions, operations and benefits of the program's Day in Towne simulation.

Five questions guided this study. 1) What are the intentions of the AmeriTowne program? 2) What conditions does the Young AmeriTowne program's Day in Towne simulation provide for educational experience? 3) Which aspects of the AmeriTowne's Day in Towne simulation participation facilitate students developing and utilizing 21st Century knowledge and skills? 4) What is the educational importance for those involved in the Young AmeriTowne program? 5) How are AmeriTowne's theories and practices applicable in K-12 classrooms across the nation?

This study utilized Educational Connoisseurship and Criticism and provides detailed descriptions and interpretations taken from one site. It includes the experiences of fourteen groups of fifth graders from Denver metropolitan area public schools. Data collection included direct observations, interviews, document analysis and artifact review.

Findings emerged that reveal: 1) The physical environment was critical in the students' learning, bridging the curriculum, pedagogy and aesthetic elements provided by the simulation and supporting constructivism. 2) Seven themes were distilled from the research. These themes include:physical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, academic, creative, schematic and altruistic elements. 3) Findings underscore the importance of social learning and context in relation to skill development, and application.

This study provides a variety of implications within the field of education that impact teacher education programs, practicing teachers, school administration and school reform efforts particularly in relation to considering what students will need in to be prepared for endeavors including postsecondary schooling, and entrance into the workforce.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Alicia Jane McKinney

File size

255 p.

File format