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Dissertation Fellows

L. Esthela Bañuelos
UC Santa Cruz/sociology

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.

Shiv Desai

Dissertation: Emancipate yourself from mental slavery / None but ourselves can free our minds :Spoken word as site/sight of resistance, reflection and rediscovery

Abstract: Throughout the nation, urban high schools are experiencing a “silent epidemic” where half of all minority youth drop out of high school.  In addition, these youth are increasingly being incarcerated at disproportional rates (Orfield, 2004).  Thus, this proposal provides a concrete example of implementing the critical conditions needed to enhance college opportunities for underrepresented youth as identified by UC ACCORD.  By providing a three-year qualitative account of a spoken word classroom, I will illustrate how the class fostered a safe learning environment, provided a rigorous academic curriculum and created a college-going culture.  In addition, I demonstrate how creating a student-centered curriculum that privileges “urban youth realities” allows teachers and students to critically analyze key issues affecting the lives of urban youth such as gangs, violence, immigration and education.  Moreover, this study discusses how alternative forms of literacies can enable urban youth to develop a multi-cultural college-going identity (Oakes, 2003).

Nicole Hidalgo
UC Santa Cruz/education

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: 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.

Maria Malagon

Dissertation: Trenches Under The Pipeline: The Educational Trajectories of Chicano Male Continuation High School Students

Abstract: This study examines the educational trajectories of 11 Chicano male high school students in a California continuation school. Chicana Feminist Epistemological and Latina/o Critical Race
frameworks are utilized to reveal how Chicano male continuation students come to understand their experiences as they access, persist, and resist schooling institutions. Theories of reproduction and resistance additionally provide for a theoretical exploration of Chicano racialized masculinities in educational discourse and practice. Data is collected from participant observation at a continuation school site, along with 22 oral history interviews and one focus group interview. The research and policy goals of this dissertation seeks to 1) subvert dominant paradigms in education discourse that reproduces deficit knowledge about non-dominant communities, 2) move towards epistemological approaches that can examine the multiple and intersecting constructions of race, class, gender, sexuality and other forms of domination, and 3) offer policy recommendations that can help researchers and practioners improve the quality of instructional practices within remedial educationalspaces.

Denise Pacheco

Dissertation: From Pedagogy to Art: The Role of the Teacher-Poet in Apprenticing Young Poets

Abstract: This dissertation uses qualitative methods to investigate the pedagogy, learning and student participation in a creative writing intervention. “The Writing Out Loud Project” introduced a class of fifth graders to college level texts, literary analysis, and poetry writing. Guided by Xicana feminism and critical pedagogy this study argues that poetry writing is useful for bringing institutional recognition to students’ articulation of voice.  By federal standards these students, urban English Learners, are in need of standardized curriculum and instruction.  This dissertation counters this assumption, arguing that poetry writing allows students to practice meaningful ways of using language to develop complex forms of thinking and voice.  Through the teaching of poetry writing as a cultural process as opposed to isolated skills, students were encouraged to take on the identity of a poet. This study contributes to an understanding of the teaching practices and curricula necessary for meeting the academic needs of urban students.

Shirin Vossoughi

Dissertation: Stretching Towards the Possible: A Qualitative Case Study of Literacy and Learning in the Migrant Program

Abstract: Migrant students comprise one of the most educationally underserved populations in the United States. In the Migrant Program (MSLI), an educational intervention designed to provide a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, high school age migrant students became successful participants in university level reading, writing and social analysis, moving on to matriculate in four year institutions in striking numbers. Through a qualitative case study of one classroom for which I was the primary instructor, this dissertation draws on Freirean and Vygotskian traditions to analyze the specific pedagogical practices that constitute MSLI as an effective intervention. Through micro-ethnographic analysis of classroom discourse and students' expanding participation in university level literacy practices, I look closely at the role of mediation in literacy learning, arguing for the developmental affordances of a deeply collective model of apprenticeship. This study contributes to a growing set of scholarly-pedagogical efforts aimed at transforming literacy education for non-dominant students.

Faculty Seed Grant Fellow

Lindsey Malcom, Ph.D.
UC Riverside/education

Title: Moving Beyond Cultural Deficit Models to Understand the Formulation of College Financing Strategies among Latina/o Students: A Resource Mapping Approach

Abstract: This pilot study examines the ways in which social networks, access to information, and community, familial, and high school institutional contexts influence the formulation of college financing strategies for Latina/o students. The study builds upon the work of previous scholars who have identified these factors as vital to Latina/o students decisions about college and who have characterized college decision-making as a collaborative, socially mediated process. The study provides a qualitiative account of the experiences of rising Latina/o high school seniors as they formulate college financing strategies continuing until their college matriculation. Using network analysis, the project contributes to our understanding of the manner in which the nature and intensity of relations to various resources influence the perceptions, knowledge, and beliefs about financial aid of Latina/o students and the resulting development and implementation of college financing strategies. Preliminary results suggest that while all students in the sample were concerned about college costs and altered their college decision making based on these concerns, students with more extensive resource networks with a diverse range of ties (i.e., ties to institutional agents, ties to information sources on the internet, ties to pre-college programming, ties to peers, ties to college-attending siblings) applied to more postsecondary institutions and perceived that they had a broader range of college opportunities than those with limited resource networks with ties of one or two types (e.g., only ties to family; only ties to peers).

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