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Yvonne Kwan
UC Santa Cruz/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2013


Zoë Buck
UC Santa Cruz/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Improving Access to Cosmology Content for Community College Students through Visualizations

Abstract: Cosmology content is often delivered through high tech animated simulations of our Universe called visualizations, which have low linguistic demand, but the potential to convey complex science content. The research I propose is designed to improve access to STEM content by studying learning mediated by these visualizations in a culturally and linguistically diverse community college classroom in California’s Central Valley. Using the lenses of sociocultural theory, and activity theory, I ask the following question: How are students in a diverse community college classroom using visualizations to mediate learning activity in small groups? I will conduct 25 semi-structured group interviews that include a collaborative drawing task. The resulting paper will contribute to the literature on designing learning tools to expand access, and directly inform the production of new tools through collaboration with a visualization design group at UCSC, and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.



Edward G. Lyon
UC Santa Cruz/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Shifting from Assessment as Evaluation to Assessment as a Vehicle for Science Learning and Equity: Changes in Secondary Science Preservice Teachers’ Assessment Expertise

Abstract: Assessment plays a critical role in secondary science classrooms, both in reporting what students know, which affects their advancement through high school, as well as supporting students’ science learning. Yet assessing English Learners (ELs) equitably is a daunting task. This study aims to document how the assessment expertise of eleven secondary science preservice teachers (SSPTs) changed during a teacher education program (TEP) when provided with focal assessment-related instruction. Employing a mixed-method approach, I collected survey, interview, artifact, and classroom observation data. Responses to open-ended prompts were scored using a rubric and the content of interviews and observation field notes was qualitatively analyzed through iterative coding and pattern identification. The SSPTs demonstrated positive changes in their assessment expertise, such as “shifting” from recognizing assessment equity issues to awareness of assessment strategies appropriate for ELs. The findings have implications on how SSPTs are prepared to assess in linguistically diverse classrooms.



L. Esthela Bañuelos
UC Santa Cruz/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2009

Dissertation: (Re)Producing Difference: Academic Cultures and the Making of “Women of Color” Ph.D.s

Abstract: This study examines the social relations intersecting everyday experiences of racialized women Ph.D. students and the academic cultures in which they participate in order to gain insights into knowledge formation processes and racial/ethnic identity formations at the graduate level. This study seeks to understand the experiences of graduate students from a comparative lens, with racialized women the primary analytic focus. Research was conducted at the University of California Berkeley and consisted of a survey that yielded 171 respondents and in-depth interviews of 51 participants (30 core interviews of racialized women and 21 comparative interviews of men of color, white women, and white men). I argue that the complex positioning of racialized women in the academy has important theoretical implications for the study of knowledge formations that has to date, been largely overlooked. Through identifying 'best practices' that can have an impact on diversity and representation, the policy contributions of this project may ultimately benefit all students.

Nicole Hidalgo
UC Santa Cruz/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2009

Dissertation: When Stepping to College is Stepping to Consciousness: The Cultivation of Transformational Resistance in an Urban High School Classroom

Abstract: This presentation explores the curricular and pedagogical processes involved in cultivating transformative forms of youth resistance in an urban high school classroom, the interweaving influences in the students' lives, and the impacts of transformative classroom practices on youth's academic achievement, college going, and social justice sensibilities. I draw from a two-year critical ethnography of the East Oakland Step to College program (STC), which prepares underserved African American and Latina/o youth to enroll in four-year universities, and nurtures students' motivations to foment positive social change. Findings revealed that the STC students were highly engaged and self-disciplined in STC class, and resisted inequities in transformative ways such as engaging in public intelligence, protest marches, public testimonies, and critical college going. Using the analytical frameworks of college access, youth resistance, and critical, culturally relelvant pedagogies, this presentation illuminates the complexities of youth resistance and the powerful role of classroom teachers as transformational mentors.

John Johnson
UC Santa Cruz/psychology

Dissertation Fellow, 2009

Dissertation: The Contextual Functionality of Black Student Unions in Higher Education: An Ecological Systems Analysis

Abstract: Black Student Unions (BSUs) in higher education contribute to the flow of ethnic minority students through the education pipeline via student-initiated recruitment and retention efforts. BSUs also offer underrepresented students a medium for campus involvement and leadership development. However, BSUs in higher education are beset by a variety of complexities and complications that correspond with their contextual conditions, not the least of which is the unavoidable instability of their membership. The current study involves a mixed-method analysis of four BSUs in the California higher education system examining the internal and external networks of these student organizations and testing the effectiveness of an ecological systems approach to assessing organization-context congruity. Preliminary results suggest that practices that extend or stabilize member composition contribute to organization development and success and that ecological system conditions and resources impact organization effectiveness. For BSUs in higher education, context is likely more important than member composition.


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

Faculty Seed Grant Fellow, 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.



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.



George Bunch, Ph.D.
UC Santa Cruz/education

Faculty Seed Grant Fellow, 2005

Title: English Learners, Language Policy, and Transitions to Higher Education

The seed grant will be used to design a larger proposal investigating how institutional conceptions of language proficiency in general and "academic language" in particular impact the experiences of English learners as they attempt transitions from high school to higher education. The larger proposal will investigate the numerous and often conflicting language assessments and other language-related policies that California students face as they attempt to graduate from high school and attempt to access community colleges. The seed grant will be used to review relevant literature, investigate potential focal institutions for the larger study, and develop instruments for analyzing language assessments. The ultimate goal is to contribute to an understanding of the ways that language assessments and other language policies facilitate or hinder transitions to higher education by English learners, knowledge that can be used to work toward more equitable access to higher education for students from language minority backgrounds.

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