Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Jodi Bergland Holen


This case study is an investigation of the attitudes, perceptions, and reactions of school staff and community members in a rural pre-boom school district. In the early stage of an oil boom, real and perceived disruptions commonly occur in the schools and communities that are affected. The preparations and responses that residents make to the changes may determine the community’s future success, so understanding the impacts in the initial pre-boom growth stage is vital. Using qualitative methods of interviews, participant observations, and document analyses, this study researched 41 participants in a rural school district and two communities. The literature review and data investigation were framed partly around the Social Disruption Hypothesis, and the analysis suggests that the oil pre-boom stage impacts space, teaching and learning, and causes social disruptions. These three affected areas contribute to and are influenced by the uncertain future that accompanies boom cycles. Individual variables seem to determine community member responses to a boom, and these participants responded to change by supporting, resisting, or deserting their communities. The school district was challenged with transient students, changes to funding, teacher workload, and teacher paradigm shifts in the way they viewed their future instruction. Community support for the schools, as well as peer acceptance of new students, remained strong. Community contexts, including history, physical location, and types of growth, may partially explain differences in residents’ preparations and reactions. Recommendations for community planning, school teaching and administration, and university preparation of pre-service teachers are provided.

Key Words: oil boom, pre-boom, boomtown, Social Disruption Hypothesis, community identity, community attachment, acceptance, student transience, community context