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Chenoa Woods
UC Irvine/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2013


Tina Matuchniak
UC Irvine/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Mind the Gap: A Cognitive Strategies Approach to College Writing Readiness

Abstract: English language learners (ELLs) are one of the fastest growing groups among school-age children in the country, yet, according to national NAEP (2005) data, only 4% of them scored at the proficient level in reading in grade 8. ELLs continue to lag behind every other group when it comes to reading and writing, which raises the question of how to effectively and equitably educate a growing population of traditionally underserved students in order to prepare them to gain access to and flourish in postsecondary institutions. Much of the current literature points to academic preparation as being a key factor in college access and persistence. This study is a quasi-experimental, longitudinal, mixed methods study, which follows a cohort of 136 12th grade ELLs as they transition from high school to college, looking to see how their academic preparation, specifically their writing experiences and performances, enables them to gain access to and persist in college.

Femi Vance
UC Irvine/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Adolescent Skill-building and Persistence in Youth Programs

Abstract: After-school programs provide academic and social supports that are critical for promoting college enrollment in disadvantaged students. Yet, without sustained attendance teens will not benefit from the supports offered in this context. Research shows that for ethnic minority youth, the promise of learning new skills attracts them to programs. This dissertation is an in-depth examination of opportunities for skill-building and the relationship between skill-building and attendance in a college and career focused program serving predominantly Latino students. Specific research questions include: 1) How are skill-building opportunities created in a high quality program?; 2) Does intensity of program attendance predict content specific skill-building?; 3) Does short-term skill-building predict sustained attendance? This study uses a mixed-methods design employing observations, staff interviews, youth surveys, and attendance records. The findings will inform the practices of program leaders and the strategies to increase the attendance of low-income ethnic minority adolescents in a developmentally enriching context.



Daisy Verduzco Reyes
UC Irvine/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2010

Dissertation: Latino Student Politics: Constructing Ethnic Identities in Organizations

Abstract: My dissertation examines the process of constructing and expressing identity in Latino student organizations on three different college campuses. Using data obtained through ethnographic observations, 72 in-depth interviews and organizational member surveys, I develop an understanding of 1) how three universities —varying resources, diversity, size, and selectivity ¾ shape the Latino student organizations that emerge on campus; 2) what resources and ways of understanding Latino identities student organizations provide their members; 3) how groups draw boundaries for membership into a Latino group; 4) how groups define a Latino community’s concerns; and 5) how Latinos integrated in institutions of higher education identify ethnically-racially. The fundamental goal of this dissertation is to examine the diverse racial-ethnic identity constructions and experiences that emerge in Latino student organizations on a Southern California campus today.



Rosaura Tafoya-Estrada
UC Irvine/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2007

Dissertation: Multi-Generational Educational Trajectories of the Mexican-Origin Population

Abstract: This study examines the different pathways of educational mobility undertaken by descendants of immigrants in pursuit of upward mobility. Specifically, how 1.5, second and third generation Mexican descendants make decisions about family, housing/neighborhood and work responsibilities that affect educational mobility? By comparing the experiences of men and women across the generations, documentation of individuals’ lived experiences will help discern specific trade-offs and constraints affecting each generation. The study will draw from the Intergenerational Immigrant Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA) project that covers more than four generations of persons of Mexican-origin. Based on a total of 100 in-depth interviews and utilizing immigrant incorporation theory, the project examines at what point and under what conditions, Mexican-Americans alter, delay or enhance their educational trajectories. This research will contribute to the growing body of knowledge on multi-generational educational attainment focusing on the intersection of race/ethnicity, class and gender.

Eduardo Mosqueda, Ph.D., and Leticia Oseguera, Ph.D.
UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine/education

Junior Faculty Fellows, 2007

Title: Why Do Asian American Students Do Better in School?: Understanding the Roots of Social Capital Among Black, Mexican American, Vietnamese American, and White High School Youth

This study develops a more comprehensive understanding of Asian American success by exploring the roots of social capital to help explain differences in academic school performance among Vietnamese, Black, Mexican, and White high school youth. We quantitatively investigate the study habits of students in the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS):88 database. Using the quantitative findings as a guide, we will then generate an interview protocol to undertake a pilot qualitative study of high school students to delineate relationships between access to social capital networks and school achievement. This work suggests a closer examination of the association between parental socioeconomic status, gender, familial social capital (e.g., parental expectations), and within- and between- school social capital (e.g., positive relationships in schools) as possible explanations for the relative success of Vietnamese high school students. This research will inform policy and practice in identifying educational reform efforts to promote academic success among all students.

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

Faculty Seed Fellow, 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.



Ryane McAuliffe Straus
UC Irvine/political science

Dissertation Fellow, 2003

Dissertation: Increasing Segregation as Magnet Schools Seek to Attract Middle Class Students

Abstract: In response to a state court desegregation order, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) instituted magnet schools in 1978 for the dual purposes of integrating and improving schools.  Now, however, magnets emphasize academic benefits over voluntary integration.  Although these emphases are not mutually exclusive, this change appears to have accompanied the schools’ shift from attracting and retaining both urban poor and middle class students, to a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining middle class students. The study analyzes this process by using both existing theories of public policy and emerging  understandings of racial power in urban settings.  The study  applies a social construction perspective and the policy design framework to school desegregation, and it adds Los Angeles to the body of desegregation case studies.

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