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Abstracts of ACCORD Projects, 2007
Dissertation: Opportunities to Teach, Grow and Transform: Exploring the Relationship Among School Conditions, Teachers’ Social Networks, and Teachers’ Careers
Abstract: High school reform and teacher development/retention are two pressing issues in urban education. This study explores the relationship among school conditions, teachers’ social networks, and teacher development/retention in the context of a secondary reform—the creation of small, autonomous high schools—that is part of both a community-backed effort to improve educational opportunities for local, predominantly Latino students and a national trend among urban school districts. The mixed methods research design includes a social network survey administered to roughly 100 teachers at the large, comprehensive urban high school undergoing reform and longitudinal case studies that chronicle four of those teachers’ experiences as they move across school contexts and work to expand opportunities to teach and learn for themselves and their students. Thus, this study seeks to yield findings that will inform ongoing reform efforts and extend existing research concerning the role of social relations in supporting teacher development/retention and urban high school reform.
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.
Dissertation: The Politics of Higher Education Spending in the American States
Abstract: Identifying policies that promote student access is at the core of higher education scholarship. However, little has been done to understand the political process through which these policies develop. My dissertation addresses the following questions: Why does the level and type of government support for higher education vary so much across states and over time? Does politics matter or is this variation just a by-product of the economic business cycle? How do political-economic trends affect states’ ability to make a university education possible for all? Given that the reasons for states supporting higher education go beyond individual economic returns then investigating how and how much states invest in higher education may provide clues to the specific political-economic dynamics driving higher education policy. My dissertation sheds light on this process by investigating differences in spending patterns across 48 states from 1976 to 2002, in combination with a case study of California.
Dissertation: Adjustment and Achievement of Ethnically Diverse, Urban Adolescents across the Transition to High School
Abstract: Existing transition research indicates that academic achievement and engagement significantly decline as students move from middle school to high school. Little is known, however, about why the decline occurs, the role of school structure, and whether the pattern might be different for particular ethnic groups. With an ethnically-diverse, urban sample, this study examines (1) ethnic identity development, perceptions of educational barriers and school interracial climate, and academic achievement and engagement longitudinally across the critical transition to high school, (2) the effects of school context, and (3) how different patterns of student experiences predict distal educational outcomes such as academic achievement and engagement at the end of 10th grade. Utilizing piecewise growth modeling and piecewise growth mixture modeling, I will analyze individual student change across the transition from middle to high school, identify groups of students with similar experiences in each phase, and use these groups to predict distal academic outcomes.
Melanie Toshiye Jones
Dissertation: Educational Advantages: Race, Class, and Teacher-Student Relationships
Abstract: Past research emphasizes the importance of teachers in motivating students in school, especially African American students. However, we know little about why or how teacher-student relationships help students gain educational advantages or additional support from teachers. We also do not know how race and social class faciliate or impede teacher-student relationships or how students benefit from such relationships. This dissertation uses ethnographic methods, interviews, and observations at a public high school in California with a substantial African American population and diversity in social class to examine how race and social class shape relationships between African American students and their teachers. This project also investigates how teacher-student relationships help students gain increased support in planning course schedules and preparing for higher education. In doing so, this project will highlight the specific roles teachers play in reinforcing or moderating the relationship between social class and preparation for college among African American students.
Martha A. Rivas
Dissertation: Navegando Contra La Corriente: Understanding the Chicana Transfer Experience from Community College to the Doctorate
Abstract: Chicana/o students who pursue a postsecondary education are often concentrated at the community college segment. Although most of these students aspire to transfer into four-year institutions, their consistently low transfer rates indicate the lack of access to transfer opportunities. However, the U.S. Chicana/o doctorate production rates between 1990 and 2000 indicate that one out of four doctorate recipients first attended a community college (Solorzano, Rivas, & Velez, 2005). Nonetheless, the experiences of community college transfer students through every segment of postsecondary education continue to be underresearched. Using critical race theory and Chicana feminist epistemology, this retrospective study subscribes to Testimonios as the primary qualitative method. Ten Chicana students in their second or third year of doctoral training at UCLA participated in a 3-part series of Testimonios. A fourth meeting, focus group, served as the “member check” data analysis of the findings. This study seeks to develop a theory and initiate a discussion on how the role of racism, sexism, and other forms of subordinations may affect the Chicana transfer experience at every segment of postsecondary education.
UC Santa Barbara/education
Dissertation: Architecture of Diversity: Dilemmas of Race and Space for Asian American Students in Higher Education
Abstract: Significant increases in Asian American college enrollment have created a veil of success often concealing a variety of tensions and dilemmas that many Asian American college students wrestle with—dilemmas that stem from their achievement, on the one hand, and their inability to escape processes of racialization on the other. By highlighting the multiple salience of higher education for Asian Americans, this study aims to examine how Asian American students work to understand, negotiate, and contest their racial identities given their fluctuating status within the larger US racial system. Bringing together three distinct and usually separate perspectives to frame this project—symbolic interactionism, group position model, and spatial analysis—this study gathers data from a large public university in the form of in-depth interviews, surveys, ethnographic observations, and cognitive mapping in order to: 1) examine how Asian Americans college students navigate through physical and social spaces; and 2) explore what it means to be Asian American in spaces where inclusion and mobility, while highly sought after, remain problematic.
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.
Dissertation: We’re Back: The Emerging Importance of Suspension, Expulsion and Student Reentry
This study looks at how low-income students of color make a critical transition back into the learning environment and the types of critical conditions necessary to facilitate successful student reentry. Existing research on school discipline provides compelling information about the overrepresentation of low-income students of color in unprecedented suspension and expulsion rates. More recently, scholars have pointed to discipline incidents as a potential factor in the dropping out process. Learning and understanding how students make sense of removal from school, why they return to school and what the reentry process means to them is at the heart of this study. While these questions remain understudied and often overlooked, they are telling of a crisis that plagues school systems nationwide. Students’ interpretations can shed light on the complexity of expulsion and suspension and possible interventions that might aid such students’ reentry into schooling and prevent them from dropping out in the future.
Junior Faculty Fellowship
Eduardo Mosqueda, Ph.D., and
Leticia Oseguera, Ph.D.
UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine/education
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.
Faculty Seed Grant
Cynthia Feliciano, Ph.D.
UC Irvine/sociology and Chicano/Latino studies
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.
Juliet Williams, Ph.D.
UC Santa Barbara/women's studies
Title: Making a Difference: The Fall and Rise of Single-Sex Public Education in the United States
With the support of the UC ACCORD Faculty Seed Grant, I am developing a research proposal to assess the success of middle school single-sex education initiatives in promoting access to higher education for historically underrepresented students. My study focuses on the effectiveness of a distinctive model of single-sex education which in recent years has emerged as the dominant approach used in public school settings-a model which employs sex segregation in the classroom but does not otherwise address sex and gender differences or inequalities as part of the official curriculum and pedagogy (see Datnow et. al. 2001). The fieldwork for this project will be based at Excel Charter Academy in East Los Angeles, a newly opened public charter middle school serving students mainly from low-income Latino families in the surrounding area.