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Alicia Valero
UC Davis/education

Fellow, 2001

Title: Literacy Development among Latino Students in a Rural Preschool

When Latino students enter kindergarten there are significant disparities between them and White, middle-class children in the area of school readiness. Therefore, it is important to provide Latino students access to early literacy experiences that are critical to later success in reading and writing. This ethnographic study explores how Latino students develop emergent literacy skills in a preschool program that promotes Spanish language and literacy experiences. A secondary purpose is to examine how literacy instruction is socially organized in this preschool context. This study may help optimize an emergent literacy curriculum for preschool students from Latino, Spanish-speaking backgrounds.

Femi Vance
UC Irvine/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2011

Dissertation: Adolescent Skill-building and Persistence in Youth Programs

Abstract: After-school programs provide academic and social supports that are critical for promoting college enrollment in disadvantaged students. Yet, without sustained attendance teens will not benefit from the supports offered in this context. Research shows that for ethnic minority youth, the promise of learning new skills attracts them to programs. This dissertation is an in-depth examination of opportunities for skill-building and the relationship between skill-building and attendance in a college and career focused program serving predominantly Latino students. Specific research questions include: 1) How are skill-building opportunities created in a high quality program?; 2) Does intensity of program attendance predict content specific skill-building?; 3) Does short-term skill-building predict sustained attendance? This study uses a mixed-methods design employing observations, staff interviews, youth surveys, and attendance records. The findings will inform the practices of program leaders and the strategies to increase the attendance of low-income ethnic minority adolescents in a developmentally enriching context.

Olga Vasquez
UC San Diego/communications

Fellow, 2001

Title: Expanding Success Across Cultural Contexts

La Clase Mágica's preschool activity (MCM) is a successful school readiness program in San Diego County that utilizes a computer program adapted to the local ecology. This study examines the extension of the after school program, to two new, culturally different contexts; One near the U.S. -Mexico boarder and the other at the San Pasquel American Indian Reservation. Ethnographic field methods as well as the Attachment Q-Sort (AQS) and Computer Literacy Test will examine the cross cultural adaptation of the program and its impact on school readiness and social development.

Elizabeth Vazquez

Dissertation Fellow, 2007

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.

Veronica Velez

Dissertation Fellow, 2008

Dissertation: Del Coraje a la Esperanza (From Rage to Hope): Transformation, Empowerment, and Collective Agency Among Latina/o Immigrant Parents

Abstract: This qualitative case study seeks to understand how members of ALIANZA, a Latina/o immigrant parent group, come to see themselves as agents of change and organize collectively as a result. Utilizing a LatCrit framework, this study contends that educational research erroneously characterizes Latina/o parents as disinvested in the education of their children. A more critical analysis reveals that these characterizations operate from normalized standards of what it means to be a "good" parent that fail to acknowledge the participation of Latina/o parents as well as the barriers they face within schools. Moreover, a LatCrit analysis reveals that traditional notions of civic engagement render invisible the political efforts of non-citizens, like those in ALIANZA. This study argues that ALIANZA could inform research and practice about how to build school-community partnerships in Latina/o communities, as well as how parent involvement and civic engagement intersect in campaigns for social justice on behalf of Latina/o immigrant parents. To examine notions of consciousness and collective action, this study uses a Freirean pedagogical perspective that broadly guides its main inquiry. Data from this study are collected from semi-structured interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and organizational archives.

Bryan Ventura

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Perspectives from within the Hidden System: A Mixed-Method Examination of Practices used by California's Model Continuation Schools

Abstract: With a legislatively mandated focus on dropout prevention, continuation schools have been charged with educating high school students at risk of school failure. Unfortunately, research and reform efforts have overlooked this important segment of the education system. This study seeks to investigate the practices used by successful continuation schools as a starting point for improving how these schools serve their students. The study examines Model Continuation Schools, an award given to exemplary programs by California’s Department of Education, and examines the practices these schools use to increase student learning, participation, and ultimately graduation. Ethnographic research methods are used to provide an in-depth examination of the practices at a local Model Continuation School. This is supplemented by an analysis of written narratives describing the practices of other Model Continuation Schools in the region. Together these findings draw attention to the way in which alternative school spaces can serve and support their students.

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.

Shirin Vossoughi

Dissertation Fellow, 2009

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.

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