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Jennifer Collett
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2013

Dissertation: Negotiating an Identity to Achieve in an English Dominant School System: Investigating the Academic Lives of Young Bilingual Learners

Abstract: Negotiating an identity to achieve in an English dominant school system: Investigating the academic lives of young bilingual learners’ is an 18-month ethnography of Latino bilingual students enrolled in culturally and linguistically diverse elementary schools.  The study follows two groups of students in two different Spanish–English Dual Immersion programs and examines the social identities they construct through learning.  At the beginning of the study, all 21 focal students were labeled as English language learners (Ells).  All students were able to communicate effectively in English, but struggled to be reclassified due to their developing reading and writing English skills. The dissertation follows these students through their last year and a half of elementary school and their journey in learning English and Spanish, as well as the process of reclassification, to investigate how these academic experiences shape their process of identity construction.


Katherine K. Frankel
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Understanding “Remediation” from the Student’s Perspective: The Potential for Expansive Learning in Ninth Grade Literacy Intervention Classes

Abstract: The transition from middle school to high school is a critical juncture in the lives of all students. However, it is particularly important for students who are enrolled in ninth-grade literacy intervention classes because these students have already been identified as at-risk for school failure and are underrepresented in California’s higher education institutions. In this dissertation study, I employed qualitative methods to investigate two different ninth-grade literacy intervention models and how well they serve their student populations through the triangulation of multiple data sources (e.g., interviews with students, teachers, parents, and administrators; classroom observations; and samples of student work) at two school sites. In my ongoing analysis, I seek to identify the conditions under which literacy intervention classes have the potential to impact positively at-risk students’ orientations toward school and, ultimately, to improve their academic trajectories.


Lynette Parker
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Theorizing the Ghetto: The case of Compton—From the suburban to the sub-urban and the intersection of resources, psychology, and oppression in the construction of Black identity and consciousness

Abstract: The salience of neighborhood transformation in fostering achievement and resiliency in children has been established. Yet the theory that illuminates a neighborhood’s transformation into a ghetto remains vague. This study seeks to clarify neighborhood transformation as part of a larger system of structural racism, oppression and disinvestment. This study illuminates the making of the ghetto of Compton, particularly its shift from a suburban space to a sub-urban space and the impending psychological damage and pathology that follows and impacts residents. Using qualitative interviews of 20 African Americans who grew up in Compton and attended neighborhood schools, and quantitative analysis of demographic shifts along side resource changes, this study theorizes the complex ways in which resources, psychology, and identity interplay in the creation of the ghetto and ultimately underachievement. The guiding research questions are 1) In what ways does the racial transformation of the Compton community explain the change in student achievement? 2) How do members of the Compton community understand their school experiences and their identities in relation to the city of Compton? 3) In what ways are characteristics of Compton as a ghetto internalized, accommodated or resisted?


Tammie Visintainer
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Shaping High School Students’ Ideas About Science: Examining the Identity-Constructing Resources of Summer Science Programs for Underrepresented Youth

Abstract: Despite numerous calls to increase diversity in the sciences (Oakes, 1990; Darling-Hammond, 2010), the underrepresentation of students of color in advanced science courses and fields is persistent. This research utilizes the practice-linked identity framework (Nasir, 2012) to explore progressions along trajectories of developing interest in, and identification with, science for high school students of color as they participate in summer science programs for underrepresented youth that involve conducting investigations alongside scientist mentors. This research employs a mixed-methods approach to examine: 1) what/how identity constructing resources are made available, and 2) implications for students’ identification processes in science. Analyses examine how students’ ideas about what science is and who can do science evolve through participation in summer science programs, as well as how the material, relational, and ideational resources made available to students through programs differ in important ways that have direct implications for students’ identification processes in science.



Yolanda Anyon
UC Berkeley/social welfare

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: School-Based Health and Social Services: Reducing or Reproducing Inequality in Education?

Abstract: Given persistent racial and ethnic disparities in access to health and social services, scholars and advocates have long argued that intensive school-based support programs are a critical condition for the academic success of disadvantaged students of color. Yet surprisingly little is known about the actual dynamics of service delivery and use in educational settings, particularly across race and ethnicity. Administrative data from health and social programs in a large urban school district indicates that the provision of services in schools does improve access for historically underserved groups. However, the dramatic overrepresentation of Black and Latino youth in the most stigmatized and problem-focused services, such as individual psychotherapy, may be cause for concern. Drawing on institutional theory and research from special education, this study will use archival, administrative, and survey data to examine school processes that contribute to differential patterns of student participation by race and ethnicity.

Jessica Cobb
UC Berkeley/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Shocking Inequality: Teachers’ Subjective Experiences of Unequal Schools

Abstract: This dissertation examines the *critical conditions* that impact teachers’ subjective experiences of their work as they negotiate the “uncomfortable middle ground” between students and unequal school systems, enhancing our understanding of the processes that mediate race/class disparities in schooling outcomes. This comparative study is based on in-depth interviews with teachers at high schools in three independent school districts in L.A. County that vary in terms of student demographics, material resources, and relationship to the local community. The research examines the complex process of developing a self-as-teacher for individuals who vary in terms of their personal backgrounds and teacher training, and who negotiate interpersonal and institutional relationships within unequal schools. Thus, this dissertation will help us to develop a more nuanced sense of the conditions confronting teachers, how they process these conditions, and the stances they develop that may help them to understand, cope with, and perhaps challenge systems of oppression.

Sera Hernández
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Beyond Risks and Resources: Educational Discourse and the Construction of the Home-School Relationship for Mexican Immigrant Families

Abstract: Drawing on the linguistic anthropology of education, this twelve-month qualitative dissertation offers a nuanced exploration of the interplay between institutional discourse on Latinos in education and the nature of the home-school relationship for four Mexican immigrant families. Relying on participant observation in homes and schools, video and audio recordings, interviews, and textual artifact collection within a northern and southern California school district, this study furthers our understanding of how institutionally-based texts and discursive interactions between the home and school contexts are negotiated moment-to-moment, yet encoded by the sociopolitical and historical context of education in the United States. This micro-level analysis furthers our understanding of how ideologies of language and personhood shape the ways in which the study’s key social actors (parents, students, teachers, and administrators) participate in face-to-face and textual-based interactions, ultimately influencing Mexican immigrant parents’ and students’ educational perspectives, schooling practices, and postsecondary plans.

Kim Nga Huynh
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Stepping Stones to a Baccalaureate

Abstract: This dissertation investigates how students’ educational plans develop as they move to and through community college. Low community college transfer and completion rates are often discussed in terms of student characteristics, rather than institutional weaknesses that affect all students. To direct attention towards the impact of institutional practices, this study focuses on how youths make sense of, and respond to, their college environments. Forty seniors were recruited in high school and followed into community college for over eighteen months in order to investigate how their perceptions of the opportunities and constraints within their respective college shaped their college plans and persistence behavior. I find that student participation and withdrawal behavior is adaptive, which means that student performance is a strategic response to student perception of environmental conditions. A more subtle but significant finding is that student (mis)behavior can only be more fully understood as action constituted within a value-laden system of evaluation.

Ronald K. Porter
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Contested Humanity: Blackness and the Educative Remaking of the Human in the 20th Century

Abstract: The question of what constitutes “the human” has been of pivotal import since the rise of European modernity. While what it means to be human has been claimed to be a universal concept, the human has in fact been defined in ways that have been both narrow and exclusionary, especially in regards to race. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand how black educational thinkers have both critiqued and rearticulated Eurocentric ideals of humanity. Black educational thinkers pose a fundamental question: How do we go about the task of understanding, creating, and articulating notions of black humanity when the very language of humanity is based on a universal that excludes? I seek to understand how race has been rearticulated as a question of “the human” in the 20th century by focusing on the educational thought of three individuals: W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and James Baldwin.



Maxine McKinney De Royston
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2010

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.

Gabriela Segade
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2010

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.



Gabino Arredondo
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2008

Dissertation: A Social Justice High School: The Construction and Socialization of a College Going Culture

Abstract: With many urban schools that primarily serve diverse students being designated as low performing it becomes paramount to examine how the day-to-day conditions at these schools impact minority students’ preparedness, eligibility, and competitiveness for college admission. The proposed dissertation reports on a three and a half year ethnographic study that follows the establishment and eventual closure of one such small school, Panther High School, in Oakland, CA. The study focuses on the creation, co-construction, and socialization of college going identities among Latina/o and African American students. The dissertation examines these processes primarily by looking at language use, literacy practices, and critical discourses of academic achievement in the lived experiences of these students in their school and neighborhood communities. A close examination of these processes offers insight to researchers, educators, policy makers, and community organizers on the critical conditions and transitions of these underrepresented youth in pursuing a higher education.

Dafney Blanca Dabach
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2008

Dissertation: Teachers as a Context of Reception for Immigrant Language Minority Youth: Adaptations in 'Sheltered' and 'Mainstream' Classrooms

Abstract: This dissertation investigates how secondary teachers of immigrant students who are not fluent in English understand and enacts their practice within a system of specialized instruction called “sheltered instruction” (or SDAIE). In this qualitative study, 20 teachers of immigrant language learners who teach both sheltered and mainstream courses in social studies, math and science are being interviewed in order to determine how their curriculum and instruction vary in each. This design is unique as it follows teachers across different instructional contexts to capture their potential adaptations. Two-four case study teachers will be selected for observations and additional interviews in order to understand how explanatory variables (institutional constraints, teacher disposition, and teacher repertoire) map out in teachers’ classrooms. Understanding the process by which teachers respond and adapt to their immigrant language learners is of critical importance with direct links to the critical conditions necessary for providing college opportunities for underrepresented students.



Roberta Espinoza
UC Berkeley/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2006

Dissertation: Educational Pivotal Moments: Overcoming Class and Ethnic Disadvantage in Women’s Access to Higher Education.

Abstract: This study examines the ways in which Latina, African American, and White female doctoral candidates organize their social support networks in graduate school, with an emphasis on the importance of “pivotal moments.” Pivotal moments are times when students first have access to educational social capital via an intensive academic social support network that launches them in a trajectory of educational advancement. Drawing from 50 open-ended interviews and using a social capital theoretical perspective, this study explores the timing of pivotal moments in predicting educational success in higher education. The data indicate that women who experience ‘early’ pivotal moments have broader support networks, more fellowships, grants, and conference presentations while women who experience ‘late’ pivotal moments have small support networks, fewer fellowships, grants, and conference presentations. Thus, pivotal moments have important policy implications for minority women’s access to and success in higher education.

Erendira Rueda
UC Berkeley/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2006

Dissertation: Navigating School Transitions: Trajectories of Academic Engagement Among Children from Low-Income Mexican Immigrant Families.


Abstract: Many students experience negative outcomes following school transitions, such as declines in attendance, grades, attitudes toward learning, and classroom engagement. These patterns are particularly prominent among students from working class, urban, linguistic and/or racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. This study explores how children from low-income, Mexican immigrant families navigate the transition from elementary to middle school and highlights the ways in which school culture, racial demographics, institutional practices, and student-teacher relations affect student academic trajectories. A significant body of research suggests that students from different social and cultural backgrounds experience and perceive schooling in vastly different ways and emphasizes the social-cultural orientations that students bring to school are the most important factors affecting student engagement. This study seeks to counter the overemphasis of the influences of race, class, gender, family, and social experiences outside of school in order to bring to light the power schools and educators have to affect students’ schooling experiences and academic engagement.

Veronica Santelices
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2006

Dissertation: Differential Item Functioning in the SAT Reasoning Test


This research explores allegations of unfair SAT results for African American and other minority students, which would inaccurately limit college opportunities for disadvantaged students. My dissertation research revolves around the psychometric definition of unfair treatment (differential item functioning or DIF) and its effects on the SAT results for African American and Hispanic students. DIF is investigated using two different methodological approaches: a classical test theory approach and an item response theory approach. This research also helps to judge the merits of an alternative measure of academic preparation for minority students based on some of the more difficult SAT questions. The alternative measure will be judged by its capacity to predict minorities’ performance in college and its predictive capacity analyzed in the context of other measures traditionally used for this purpose.



Michael J. Strambler
UC Berkeley/psychology

Dissertation Fellow, 2005

Dissertation: Academic Identification among Ethnic Minority Elementary School Children:  Developmental and School Contextual Factors

About: Despite a large body of research on the achievement gap, disparities between ethnic minorities and whites continues to be one of the largest and most important problems of this society.  Researchers have examined issues related to the gap ranging from biological, cultural, familial, and social factors.  Academic identification, or how much one values and bases one’s self-esteem on academic performance, is one such factor that has been explored in explaining the achievement gap.  While there is some evidence that African American and Latino students are less academically identified than whites, there remains much to be understood about the developmental and context-specific factors that contribute to such differences.  Also, few studies have examined academic identification within an ethnic minority population. My study aims to shed new light on developmental and environmental processes related to academic identification in the context of a high-poverty, predominantly ethnic minority elementary school.  Specifically, from the perspective of students, I examine how classroom learning conditions (i.e. teacher expectations, student-teacher relationships, academic press), school culture (sense of community), and beliefs about the benefits of education relate to academic identification and gains in achievement.  Developmentally, I examine the degree and process of academic identification across grade levels while exploring factors associated with ethnic (African American and Latino) and gender differences.



Collete Cann
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2003

Dissertation: How Are Effective Mathematics Teachers Allocated to High School Students in an Urban School District?

Abstract: This research seeks to understand the social, political, and personal factors that influence the movement of mathematics teachers in and out of urban high school classrooms.  This includes the entry, distribution and exit of mathematics teachers into, across and out of various levels of mathematics courses.   Research has documented the importance of effective teachers in increasing students’ access to a quality education and further academic opportunities. Therefore, this study also explores how district, school, department and teacher conceptions of “effective teaching” intersect with teacher requests, department needs and district budget limitations to influence the distribution of this valued resource across student groups.

Anne Gregory
UC Berkeley/psychology

Dissertation Fellow, 2003

Dissertation: Defiance or cooperation in the high school classroom: understanding how school discipline policies impact the education of African American students

Abstract: A much-discussed achievement gap across racial and ethnic groups plagues the educational system. Less discussed is a gap in discipline– the burden of which falls mostly on African American adolescents. African American students are often excluded from class for “defiance”  suggesting pervasive authority conflicts between teachers and their African American students. Yet little research has explored what fuels or can prevent these negative interactions. This study includes a broad-scale review of discipline data at a large high school and an in-depth examination of how students and teachers experience defiance and cooperation. The study analyzes student beliefs, teaching styles, and discipline practices that promote trust, respect, and cooperation between teachers and students. The findings will provide insight into reducing the rates that African Americans are excluded from class for disciplinary reasons and for increasing their access to safe, engaging classrooms, which are critical for college preparation.

Korina M. Jocson
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2003

Dissertation: Youth Poetry as a Tool for Promoting Literacy, Social and Academic Development

Abstract: This study examines the ways one intervention program, Poetry for the People (P4P), influences the literacy learning processes of high school youth. This study explores the impact of the program on literacy practices and learning processes associated with poetry. In addition, the study seeks to understand the ways that these experiences have contributed to the academic and social identities of students in high school and beyond. Effective strategies for teaching and learning as well as developing a college-going school culture are assessed with respect to this intervention model.

Roger Studley
UC Berkeley/economics

Dissertation Fellow, 2003

Dissertation: Socioeconomic Inequality, Ethnicity, and College Admissions

Abstract: Large socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities exist in college admissions. This research examines the extent to which an admissions policy that “levels the playing field” by thoroughly, objectively, and systematically accounting for the effects of socioeconomic factors on pre-college achievement can remedy these disparities. This study explores how various socioeconomic factors effect a student’s pre-college academic achievement and explain differences in achievement across racial/ethnic groups.  This analysis hopes to offer tangible recommendations for universities making admissions decisions, including how to ensure the validity of policies and how to predict the impact of such policies on the resulting pool of admitted students.  Finally it examines if using socioeconomic factors in admissions has an impact on remedying racial/ethnic disparities in admissions.

Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, Ph.D.
UC Berkeley/education

Faculty Augmentation Grantee, 2003

Title: Landscapes of Educational Opportunity: Understanding the Full Context of Schooling

Focusing on four diverse San Francisco neighborhoods, this study employs GIS maps to reveal the distribution of educational opportunities and constraints for local youth. This work looks at the wider contexts of youth’s lives, and includes as school opportunity indicators factors such as housing, faith-based and community institutions, and environmental hazards. By expanding the group of indicators used to measure educational opportunities, this study will offer insights into how education policy fits into other state policies areas.



Heinrich Mintrop, Ph.D., and Gary Blasi
UC Berkeley/education and UCLA/law

Faculty Augmentation Grantee, 2002

Title: Improving Learning Conditions for Underrepresented Students Through A More Effective Accountability System for Low-performing Schools

A schooling policy trend, both nationally and in California, is to pursue high-stakes accountability through testing that identifies low-performing students and schools to receive special interventions and sanctions. One representative mechanism for addressing low performance is California’s Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program (II/USP). The few research investigations into the nexus of accountability and programs to address deficiencies do not reveal salutary effects of current approaches. This study will look closely into the effects of accountability testing and its policy consequences in three California high schools serving low-income students of color; it will explore additional and alternate responses to addressing under-performance; and it will design and pilot accountability instruments and protocols that could do a better job of leveraging school and student performance.

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