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Rebecca M. Callahan
UC Davis/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2002

Dissertation: English language proficiency and academic achievement: Tracking, testing, and opportunity to learn

Abstract: Recent California policy decisions focus on English Learners learning academic English as the key to improving their rates of school success. However, these policies have not, in practice, produced the desired gains, and available research offers little to predict the success of the policies. Indeed, there are indications that the policies may be counterproductive because their effect is to keep English Learners from experiencing high-level, academically rich curricula. This study will investigate the relationship between English language proficiency, track or course placement, and the academic achievement of high school English Learners.

Collete Cann
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2003

Dissertation: How Are Effective Mathematics Teachers Allocated to High School Students in an Urban School District?

Abstract: This research seeks to understand the social, political, and personal factors that influence the movement of mathematics teachers in and out of urban high school classrooms.  This includes the entry, distribution and exit of mathematics teachers into, across and out of various levels of mathematics courses.   Research has documented the importance of effective teachers in increasing students’ access to a quality education and further academic opportunities. Therefore, this study also explores how district, school, department and teacher conceptions of “effective teaching” intersect with teacher requests, department needs and district budget limitations to influence the distribution of this valued resource across student groups.

Sara Castro-Olivo, Ph.D.
UC Riverside/education

Faculty Seed Grant Fellow, 2011

Title: Facilitating Universal Emotional Resiliency for the Social and Academic Success (FUERSAS) of Latino English Language Learners

This study consists of two phases. The first phase will evaluate the relationship of mental health, acculturative stress, and academic aspirations/outcomes of Latino high school students. This phase will function as a needs assessment and screening procedure for identifying youth at-risk for dropping out. Identified students will be invited to participate in phase II of the study, which will pilot the impact of a culturally adapted social-emotional learning intervention on students’ academic and social-emotional outcomes. Previous research has identified a significant correlation between Latino students’ mental health and acculturative stress. Both of these factors have been shown to have a negative impact on the academic performance of middle school Latino students (Albeg, 2010). It is hypothesized that mental health will be correlated with academic outcomes, and aspirations, of Latino high school students. The proposed intervention is expected to have positive effect on participating students’ social-emotional and academic outcomes.

Miguel Ceja
UC Davis

Fellow, 2001

Title: Chicanas in Pursuit of the Ph.D.: An examination of the graduate school choice process

Factors such as leaving home, familial influences, interactions with professors, and access to institutional resources may affect the likelihood of Chicanas successfully navigating the graduate school choice and application process. Researchers will interview Chicanas attending highly selective universities and use this data to determine and study factors that enhance or limit a Chicana’s ability to gain entry into a Ph.D. program. Understanding these experiences can inform recruitment officials interested in increasing the number of Chicanas in Ph.D. programs.

Gabriela Chavira
UC Santa Cruz/psychology

Dissertation Fellow, 2002

Dissertation: Latino Adolescents’ School Achievement: The Roles of Family Involvement and Students’ Ethnic and Career Identities

Abstract: This study investigates how two conditions for successful college going–a multicultural college going identity and family-neighborhood school supports–develop among Latino eighth grade students. The study begins with a theoretical model that proposes that, when provided supports and resources to challenge and navigate through obstacles, students can reach schooling success. It examines four dimensions of this success: 1) immigrant and non-immigrant Latino youth’s perception of their families’ involvement in their school achievement; 2) Latino families impressions of their involvement in their adolescents’ school performance; 3) the relationship between variation in family involvement among students on different math pathways; 4) the role of students’ ethnic and career identities in students’ school achievement.

Grace Chiu

Dissertation Fellow, 2007

Dissertation: Peer Support Networks Among Urban Youth in Community Technology Centers

Abstract: Most education research on social capital has either focused on the social resources adults and teachers bring into schools, or the negative peer networks—namely gangs—among youth living in poor, urban conditions. Little attention has been paid on positive peer networks that form outside schools in the context of informal learning settings. The focus of my research is to investigate what a peer social network is: whether they exist among urban youth in informal learning environments, the attributes of such networks, and the role different aspects of a sociocultural constructionist learning model potentially plays in the development of these networks. Drawing from social capital, social network, and sociocultural constructionist theories, I have collected quantified network survey data, participant observations, and in-depth case studies from after-school, Community Technology Centers. Through this work, I hope to shed further light on the study of after-school pedagogy and its connection to the building and nurturing of college-bound urban youth.

Jessica Cobb
UC Berkeley/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Shocking Inequality: Teachers’ Subjective Experiences of Unequal Schools

Abstract: This dissertation examines the *critical conditions* that impact teachers’ subjective experiences of their work as they negotiate the “uncomfortable middle ground” between students and unequal school systems, enhancing our understanding of the processes that mediate race/class disparities in schooling outcomes. This comparative study is based on in-depth interviews with teachers at high schools in three independent school districts in L.A. County that vary in terms of student demographics, material resources, and relationship to the local community. The research examines the complex process of developing a self-as-teacher for individuals who vary in terms of their personal backgrounds and teacher training, and who negotiate interpersonal and institutional relationships within unequal schools. Thus, this dissertation will help us to develop a more nuanced sense of the conditions confronting teachers, how they process these conditions, and the stances they develop that may help them to understand, cope with, and perhaps challenge systems of oppression.

Anthony Collatos

Dissertation Fellow, 2002

Dissertation: Working at the Intersection of Capital Theory: Increasing College Access for Urban Youth through Multiple Sites of Exchange

Abstract: This study documents a four-year long project that proved to be highly successful in increasing college access for urban youth identified at the start of high school as having poor prospects for attending college. The key element of this program was the ongoing engagement of the high school students as "critical researchers" who themselves studied inequitable patterns of college access for urban students of color. The study seeks to understand how students responded the program’s pedagogy, in particular whether and how engaging urban students in high-level social analysis increased their ability to gain college access.

Jennifer Collett
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2013

Dissertation:  Negotiating an Identity to Achieve in an English Dominant School System: Investigating the Academic Lives of Young Bilingual Learners

Abstract: ‘Negotiating an identity to achieve in an English dominant school system: Investigating the academic lives of young bilingual learners’ is an 18-month ethnography of Latino bilingual students enrolled in culturally and linguistically diverse elementary schools.  The study follows two groups of students in two different Spanish–English Dual Immersion programs and examines the social identities they construct through learning.  At the beginning of the study, all 21 focal students were labeled as English language learners (Ells).  All students were able to communicate effectively in English, but struggled to be reclassified due to their developing reading and writing English skills. The dissertation follows these students through their last year and a half of elementary school and their journey in learning English and Spanish, as well as the process of reclassification, to investigate how these academic experiences shape their process of identity construction. 

Frances Contreras
UC Davis/education

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2002

Title: What Counts as Merit in Post-209 Admissions?

In post-Proposition 209 California, the University of California struggles to find fair, legal, and practical admissions guidelines. Concepts of merit and equity remain loosely defined in public policy arenas. This study will examine the variables that have become indicators of admission and will reveal how competitive eligibility has been defined post 209.

Gilbert J. Contreras
UCLA/urban planning

Dissertation Fellow, 2005

Dissertation: Transforming School Culture by Containing Gangs and Creating Safer Communities

About: In California’s public schools, youth are becoming victims of criminalization under the banner of promoting school and community safety.  Increasingly, urban schools function as an extension of the criminal justice system and educational goals are subordinate to law enforcement priorities.  This study will analyze the controversial policy of civil gang injunctions and the implications on the culture of schools.  In addition, this study will provide a model for statewide policymakers regarding the interdependent relationship between crime containment policy and school safety efforts.

Robert Cooper

Fellow, 2001

Title: Promoting College Access for Poor and Minority Youth Through Comprehensive Schoolwide Reform

This study examines the micro-political processes that can impede or promote school reform designed to increase college access and opportunity for African American and Latino students, with an up-close account of efforts to create a college going culture in a large urban high school in Southern California. The analysis pays particular attention to how the political ideologies of teachers, administrators, and students shape and influence the ability and willingness of educators to increase college access for Black and Latino students. It will also illuminate the "strains and tensions" that stem from diverse sources of power, rival interests, and intractable conflicts within around the school.

Erin Cue

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Let’s YAP About the Future: A Youth Attribution Program for African-American 6th Graders

Abstract: African-American students' beliefs about the causes of their academic failures is an area that has not been explored in-depth. Nonetheless, with low graduation rates and ongoing reports of low academic achievement, educators must begin to understand African-American students perceptions and attitudes toward school and use the insights gained to address issues challenging African-American students in our education system. Using a mixed-method approach, this research identifies the causal attributions for academic failure that may be endorsed by African-American 6th graders. The overarching goal of this research is to examine whether harmful attributional beliefs (e.g., academic failure is caused by a stable characteristic that cannot be changed) among 6th grade low achievers can be altered through an attribution-retraining intervention. Guided by attribution theory, hypotheses address the notion that increasing the belief that academic failure is not stable and can be changed through personal effort will improve students' psychological and behavioral outcomes.

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