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UC Santa Barbara/sociology
Dissertation: Negotiating ‘Special’ Identities: Structure and Agency in Special Education
Abstract: This study is a qualitative exploration and analysis of Latina/o student experiences in special education, specifically in the Resource Specialist Program (RSP) in an urban high school located in Southern California. Using an ethnographic approach, observations, in-depth interviews (with students, parents and teachers) and educational case studies are analyzed in order to determine the role of educational experiences and student interactions in shaping student identity, academic performance and motivation. I focus on the role of schools as social institutions, and teaching and learning as cultural practices in order to understand their role in the production of racially gendered identities for Latina/o students enrolled in special education. This research contributes to the sociological and educational literature that seeks to challenge deficit notions traditionally attributed to the educational outcomes of Latina/o students and expose the way social institutions and interactions shape the life opportunities of Latina/o students enrolled in special education.
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.
Dissertation: Drawing on Our Assets: A Study of the Unique Contributions of Bilingual Teachers
Abstract: This study examines the unique contributions that bilingual teachers make to the education of English learners (ELs) and the extent to which these contributions are mediated by the policy context. Assessing bilingual teachers’ contributions, or the assets and skills that translate into pedagogical and other teaching practices, is especially relevant due to the continuing underachievement of ELs, who comprise one of the fastest growing student populations in the country, and to the decreasing numbers of teachers pursuing bilingual credentials in states with English-only policies. A small body of research suggests that bilingual teachers are best suited to work with ELs, inferring that the loss of bilingual teachers is negatively impacting EL outcomes. Using a mixed methods approach, this study will provide the first broad-scale examination of the practices of teachers of ELs and assess the impact of policies that precipitate declines in the number of teachers pursuing bilingual credentials.
Dissertation: Over-Incarcerated and Undereducated: Examining the Rise of the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Blacks and Latinos in California
Abstract: The prison system and the education system are separate institutions with distinct purposes. Despite the stark differences, research, reports and the emerging “school-to-prison pipeline” field demonstrate that these two institutions co-construct each other and have formed a problematic relationship that disproportionately impacts African Americans and Latinos nationwide and in California especially. In efforts to investigate this problem, a deeper understanding of how a school-to-prison pipeline develops is urgently needed. Thus, this study conducts a comparative analysis, examining the history and relationships of California prisons, incarceration rates, criminal legislation and school discipline policies and practices. Finally, interviews on student experiences around discipline and school climate will be drawn from individuals who attended one urban high school in Los Angeles from the 1960s to the 2000s.
Maxine McKinney De Royston
Dissertation: Teaching to the Spirit: Unpacking the “Hidden” Curriculum of African Centered Education
Abstract: African American students' place at the center of discussions about the "achievement gap" and "equity" highlights the lingering salience and pernicious role of race in schools (Hilliard, 2003; Noguera, 2003). Independent Black Institutions (IBIs) have historically utilized comprehensive approaches to combat issues of access and racism in schools by validating students' racial identity and cultural knowledge (Asante, 1991; Mudhabuti & Mudhabuti, 1991), and equipping them with protective factors to cope and combat racism (Boykin & Toms, 1985). To illustrate and analyze this process, this study is situated within a 31 year-old African-centered elementary school with a long history of teaching to the "whole child." Distinct from other IBIs, this school also employs a racially diverse teaching faculty. Using a mixed methods approach, this study examines: 1) what are the pedagogical philosophies and practices within this school that are intended to disrupt racism? That is, what are the critical elements of this schooling environment geared towards disruption; and 2) how does racial socialization occur at this school? Using the principles of African-centered pedagogy (Lee, 2008) and the lens of racial socialization (Boykin & Toms, 1985) as analytical frameworks, this study contributes both to our understanding schooling practices that seek to disrupt racism and of schooling conditions that are designed to empower and foster African American students' success.
Dissertation: Class and Black Student Experiences within Higher Education
Abstract: The study of intra-group differences among Black students has been an overlooked topic within higher education research. Yet these important within-group differences can work to create different experiences at the university for Black students. Utilizing critical social theory and intersectionality frameworks, I examine how class shapes the lives of Black undergraduate students at UCLA. Drawing upon sixty-two, semi-structured, in-depth interviews with Black students, I focus on the experiences of students in three groups: solidly middle-class, lower
middle-class and low-income. I analyze how class influences the ways students experience: financial challenges at the university, relationships with their Black peers and access to Black student organizations. This research can inform university policy and programs that can be designed to better support Black students from different class backgrounds as they navigate higher education.
Daisy Verduzco Reyes
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.
Dissertation: Making and Not Making Sense: The Development of English Language Proficiency among Immigrant Community College Students
Abstract: Large numbers of immigrant students are attending community colleges, where they enroll in English as a second language courses hoping to later transfer to a four-year institution. Statistics indicate that many of these students never accomplish their goal and often languish in ESL classes. This dissertation relies on qualitative research methods, including extensive video and audio recording of classroom activities and student interviews, to examine how students at an urban community college make sense of the language and language practices they encounter in an ESL course. A preliminary analysis suggests that students who previously attended US schools bring with them practices and patterns of course participation that may be detrimental to their language development, and that course activities may encourage those practices. The findings, by informing ESL curricular and pedagogical design, can help create the rigorous programs that are critical to helping students fulfill transfer requirements.
Fanny P. Yeung
Dissertation: Legacy of Immigration on Second-generation Immigrant Students in Higher Education
Abstract: The Purpose of this dissertation is to explore the college experiences of second-generation immigrants and how immigrant histories and family responsibilities influence their postsecondary experiences. The educational outcomes of second-generation students are highly polarized depending on parents’ educational attainment, degree of manual labor required of their parents’ occupational positions, and are further polarized by students’ academic preparation in under-resourced schools and unfamiliarity with the American educational system. Most research has thus far consolidated first- and second-generation immigrants or has generally focused on first-generation, foreign-born immigrants; overall, little is known about the long-term adaptations of second-generation immigrants in education. Utilizing Yosso’s (2005) community cultural wealth and an adapted relational accountability framework, this dissertation incorporates three phases of qualitative investigation (semi-structured interviews, photographic documentation, and case studies) with 40 second-generation immigrant college students and selected family members to explore how the family’s immigrant experiences influence students’ experiences and retention in college.
Faculty Seed Grant Fellows
The Faculty Seed Grant is awarded to support the initial stages of research.
Mary M. Bucholtz, Ph.D., and Jin Sook Lee, Ph.D.
UC Santa Barbara/linguistics and education
Title: School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society (SKILLS)
The proposed project is the pilot phase of an intervention enhancing college opportunities for high school students of diverse economic, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. SKILLS centers on an innovative and rigorous college-level curriculum in linguistics, supported by intensive academic mentoring. Teams of Graduate Student Teaching Fellows, undergraduate assistants, and Master Teachers in ninth- through twelfth-grade social studies classrooms in Santa Barbara County teach linguistic concepts and methods using a hands-on, technologically cutting-edge curriculum that gives students extensive experience in college-level work. Students carry out and present original empirical linguistic research on scientific, social-scientific, and humanistic/ artistic aspects of the language and culture used in their peer groups, homes, and local communities. They thereby gain a deep understanding of linguistic phenomena, the research process, and academic communication from diverse disciplinary perspectives. In addition, students’ enhanced appreciation of their linguistic heritage and their own linguistic expertise helps foster their multicultural college-going identities.