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Robert Fairlie, Ph.D.
UC Santa Cruz/economics

Faculty Seed Grantee, 2008

Title: Does Improving Access to Computers Help Community College Students on Financial Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Rural Northern California

Twenty-five percent of young people in the U.S., primarily from poor, minority and immigrant families, do not have home computers. The lack of access to home computers may place them at a disadvantage in educational attainment and the labor market. The proposed study uses a novel field experiment to address the question of whether home computers improve educational outcomes. The effects of home computers will be studied by randomly assigning free computers to financial aid students at a rural community college in Northern California. A computer refurbishing company has donated 150 computers worth $30,000 for the field experiment. The study would represent the first random assignment evaluation of the effects of home computers on educational outcomes and the first study of the effects of home computers on community college students. Findings from this research may have important implications for improving the educational outcomes of financial aid students attending community colleges.

Amy Fann, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2006

Title: Postsecondary Access and the Role of Higher Education in California Tribal Sovereignty and Nation Building

American Indian nations cautiously look to colleges and universities to prepare tribal citizens for participation in nation building efforts that preserve the political and cultural self-determination of their communities. Nonetheless, American Indian students have the lowest college admission and retention rates in the nation. After decades of national, state and institutional level initiatives to increase access to higher education for historically underrepresented students, the college pipeline for American Indians is largely unaddressed. As a result, little is known and even less is understood about the critical issues, conditions and college transitions of American Indian students. This study explores American Indian college access within the context of Native nations’ sovereignty, social and economic development, including taking stock of what tribes report as their goals for higher education, and tribal perceptions of obstacles to and sources of tension around college going.
Click here to download the full proposal (PDF 708KB)

Cynthia Feliciano, Ph.D.
UC Irvine/sociology and Chicano/Latino studies

Faculty Seed Grantee, 2007

Title: Gender and Ethnic Disparities in Early School Engagement among Children of Immigrants

Why are female children of immigrants more successful in school than males? Why are boys from some ethnic groups particularly disadvantaged? This research explores these questions by analyzing school engagement—children’s behaviors and interest in elementary school—an important predictor of subsequent achievement. It is hypothesized that gender and ethnic differences in academic engagement can be explained by: (1) differences in family cultural resources, such as parental expectations, parental control and language fluency and (2) differential effects of school context and climate. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative sample of children from kindergarten through fifth grade, the study examines these factors’ influence on children from different ethnic groups, including Mexicans, Filipinos, Indians, and Vietnamese. Understanding early ethnic and gender disparities in academic engagement can illuminate the causes of later disparities in educational attainment, and has important implications for targeting policies towards the most disadvantaged groups.

Terry Flennaugh

Dissertation Fellow, 2010

Dissertation: Mapping Academic Self-Concept: A Mixed-Method Approach to Understanding Academic Self-concept among Black Males in Urban Schools

Abstract: The Schott Foundation for Education issued a national report card in 2008 revealing that during the 2005-2006 academic year 47% of African American males did not receive diplomas with their classmates after four years of high school. A major component of this problem is what some researchers have referred to as the development of Black adolescents' academic identity or academic self-concept (Welch & Hodges, 1997). This study explores academic self-concept among high and low-performing Black males in urban schools through the use identity maps, surveys and interviews. A variety of factors are considered within this study such as the role peers, family, parents, teachers, school staff, school activities, popular culture and community play in the composition of academic self-concept. Further understanding of these identification processes can heavily impact models for counseling, pedagogy, and theories surrounding achievement for Black males.

Glenda M. Flores, Ph.D.
UC Irvine/chicano and latino studies

Faculty Seed Grant, 2013

Title: Latina Doctors in Southern California: Critical Transitions in College and the Workforce

Abstract: While there is a plethora of research on Latina immigrant women working in factories, the informal economy and low skill-jobs in the U.S., Latina professionals, with a few exceptions, have been ignored. This project is the first major comparative study of Latina doctors, one branch of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields who work in poor urban and upper-middle-class locales in Southern California. Today, less than 1% of doctors in the U.S. are of Latina origin (Current Population Survey 2007). This longitudinal pilot study focuses on how Latina doctors narrate the process of becoming doctors, examines their educational trajectories, and describes ensuing race relations and interactions with coworkers and clients in their workplaces. I employ multiple qualitative methods to answer the following interrelated research questions: 1) How do Latina doctors explain their pathways into the medical profession and; 2) How do Latina doctors navigate racial/ethnic and class boundaries with coworkers and clients in the field of medicine? This research contributes to the field of education policy by adding to our knowledge of successful Latinas in the STEM fields.

Katherine K. Frankel
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Understanding “Remediation” from the Student’s Perspective: The Potential for Expansive Learning in Ninth Grade Literacy Intervention Classes

Abstract: The transition from middle school to high school is a critical juncture in the lives of all students. However, it is particularly important for students who are enrolled in ninth-grade literacy intervention classes because these students have already been identified as at-risk for school failure and are underrepresented in California’s higher education institutions. In this dissertation study, I employed qualitative methods to investigate two different ninth-grade literacy intervention models and how well they serve their student populations through the triangulation of multiple data sources (e.g., interviews with students, teachers, parents, and administrators; classroom observations; and samples of student work) at two school sites. In my ongoing analysis, I seek to identify the conditions under which literacy intervention classes have the potential to impact positively at-risk students’ orientations toward school and, ultimately, to improve their academic trajectories.

Rhoda Freelon

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Shaping the Lives of their Children: How African American Parents Make Educational Investments

Abstract: This study seeks to better understand African American parents’ educational involvement by providing a nuanced account of the ways they invest in their children’s education. By disaggregating analyses to document within-group differences and similarities, this study will move away from monolithic portrayals of African American parents. The study will also explore how decisions and actions traditionally characterized as investment activities may be mediated by parents’ assets, dispositions, educational orientations, and social location. By examining parents’ educational investment patterns using quantitative and qualitative data, this study seeks to interrogate prevailing deficit understandings about African American parents. Further, this study will make contributions to our knowledge of family and secondary school connections by examining educational investments in the context of the adolescent years which represent a key time for a youth’s transition to adulthood. Educational investments made during this time could prove consequential for African American students’ college opportunity.

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