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Elvia Ramirez
UC Riverside/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2005

Dissertation: Navigating Through Highly Unequal Terrain: Latinos and Latinas in Graduate Education

About: This study will investigate how University of California policies, as well as inequalities embedded in the graduate schooling process itself, impact the educational trajectories of Latino/a doctoral students. Research suggests that recent policies enacted by the University of California system, including budget cuts, narrowing of admissions criteria, and increases in student fees, threaten the academic presence of Latinos/as and other historically underrepresented students at the undergraduate level.  Less concern and research, however, has focused on how these and other University of California policies also impact Latinos/as at the doctoral level. This dissertation will examine how University of California policies, as well as race, class, and gender inequities embedded in the graduate schooling process, impact Latinos/as’ access to, and experiences in, doctoral degree programs in the University of California system.

Margarita Azmitia, Ph.D., Holli A. Tonyan, Ph.D., and Olaf Reis, Ph.D.
UC Santa Cruz/psychology

Faculty Augmentation Grantees, 2002

Title: The Role of Social Support in Under-represented Minority Students’ Adjustment, Identity, Grades, and Retention in Their First Year of College

Compounding the disproportionately low rates of Under-represented minorities’ (URMs’) admissions into the UC system is their lower rate of college retention and completion. This study will follow URMs during their first year of UCSC enrollment, "mapping the ebbs and flows" in their social support networks, and how these impact students’ identity and self-esteem, adjustment, mental health and grades. These data will reveal much about URM’s response adjustment to college life and may suggest policies or interventions that can enhance their experiences and retention.

Michelle Renee

Dissertation Fellow, 2005

Dissertation: Using Research to Make a Difference: How community organizations use research as a tool for advancing equity-focused education policy

About: The increasing activism of grassroots organizations representing low-income communities and communities of color in education reform has been little studied, either by education researchers or sociologists of social movements.  Yet, this activism is significant, given the failure of traditional educational reform strategies to realize more equitable schooling.  This study examines one aspect of this new form of change:  how equity-focused organizations define, value, access and use research in their efforts to advance educational equity. As educational discourses become increasingly "scientific," community organizations and social movements must rely on research knowledge to advance equity agendas.  Using mixed methods, I examine through the lenses of social movement theory, studies of equity reform in education, and research utilization in policymaking, how organizations use research, like the kind of research produced by ACCORD scholars, to positively impact critical equity issues, critical college going conditions and critical transitions in the lives of underrepresented students.

Daisy Verduzco Reyes
UC Irvine/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2010

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.

Rema Reynolds

Dissertation Fellow, 2008

Dissertation: Holla If You Hear Me; Giving Voice to Those We’ve Missed: A Qualitative Examination of Black Middle Class Parent Engagement in Public Secondary Schools

Abstract: In the United States, persistent educational inequities have resulted in dramatic contrasts in both economic and social opportunities for students of color in the public school system. Researchers find that parent involvement is associated with a greater likelihood of aspiring to attend college and actually enrolling, as well as with higher grades, higher eighth grade mathematics and reading achievement, lower rates of behavioral problems, and lower likelihood of high school dropout and truancy. Merging a Critical Race Theory Framework with The Ecologies of Parent Engagement, I explore notions of agency, authorship, and space as they relate to parent engagement, seek to discover parents’ beliefs about their engagement, and develop a holistic picture of parent-school relationships. How do race and class intersect to influence parent engagement? Counter storytelling through interviews and a focus group as a qualitative methodological tool allows parents’ lived experiences to be the central focus of this study.

Paul M. Ong, Jordan Rickles & Douglas Houston
UCLA/public policy

Fellows, 2001

Title: School Integration and Residential Segregation in California

This study uses US Census 2000 and California Department of Education data to investigate whether schools play a role in integrating segregated neighborhoods. The project has three primary objectives: (1) measure school and residential segregation in California metropolitan areas; (2) profile metropolitan areas based on their relative measure of school segregation; and (3) investigate, at a micro-level, whether schools play a role in integrating segregated neighborhoods.

Eva Ritter
UC Riverside/education

Dissertation Fellow, 2006

Dissertation: Enlisting Minority Students into Science Research: Federal Policy, Science Curriculum, and Minority Underrepresentation in the Sciences

Abstract: Despite three decades of federal efforts to equalize ethnic/racial representation in the sciences, college enrollment and graduation statistics show that, other than Asian Americans, all major minority groups continue to be severely underrepresented in science and science education. Few studies illuminate why these efforts have not significantly increased representation of minority groups. This dissertation seeks to address one facet of this knowledge gap. Through an ethnographic case study, this research examines the intended and unintended consequences of a major federal program designed to facilitate underrepresented minority students’ transition from undergraduate to graduate school in order for them to become research scientists. In particular, this dissertation will investigate: the role of federal minority programs in the undergraduate science context; the life and conditions for underrepresented minority students in college science; and, the policy implications of recruiting and retaining underrepresented minority students in the sciences.

Martha A. Rivas

Dissertation Fellow, 2007

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.

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.

Adriana Ruiz Alvarado

Dissertation Fellow, 2013

Dissertation: Latina/o College Student Enrollment Mobility: Who Moves? And in What Ways?

Abstract: The large gaps between racial groups in access to four-year colleges and universities have been well documented, but far less is known about differences in the paths that students take once they gain access.  Lateral transfer from one four-year institution to another and reverse transfer from a four-year to a two-year institution have received very little attention as critical transitions in the lives of college students.  This study will employ HGLM and Social Network Analysis to (1) examine the factors associated with enrollment mobility among Latina/o college students who begin at four-year institutions, and (2) develop a description of the institutional networks that emerge between sending and receiving institutions.  The results will help uncover the impact that lateral and reverse transfer can have on access to higher education for underrepresented students in California, and inform both policies and practices that are responsive to the diversity of pathways students take.     

Jean J. Ryoo

Dissertation Fellow, 2012

Mobilizing Generation Z: An Examination of Teaching and Learning in a Mobile Phone-based, Youth-driven, Research Curriculum

Abstract: Computer technology innovations are central to solving future problems regarding poverty, hunger, pollution, etc. Yet only affluent white and certain Asian American students are being prepared to create these innovations through inquiry-based, computer science projects, while underrepresented secondary school students use computers for basic word processing or “drill-and-kill” test preparation. To address this inequity, “Mobilize” provides underrepresented students with a rigorous, college preparatory, computer science curriculum—in which youth conduct community research using mobile phones and apps of their own design. Since this curriculum’s success depends on how it is engaged, my dissertation study draws on Freirean and Vygotskian theories to examine how educators teach and what students learn in Mobilize. Through a qualitative case study of three high school classrooms, this work fills a research gap regarding computer science pedagogy and best practices while contributing to efforts aimed at improving technology-based education for underrepresented students.


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