Higher Education & College Access

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shane P. Martin
    Schools of Education in a New Era of Accountability: A Case Study of an Annual Report Process Used to Advance a Professional Learning Community

    Institutions of higher education are entering a new era, one where cost, value, and quality are at the front of mind. To proactively ensure long-term viability, institutions must operate differently. This qualitative case study examined how the St. Alexander University School of Education's Annual Report Process impacted institutional decision-making. Additionally, the study explored how the Annual Report Process could facilitate learning and improvement for a school of education.

    Using the Professional Learning Community model as the conceptual framework, document analysis, process analysis, and semi-structured interviews were used as the primary methods for data collection. Using pattern analysis, four themes emerged in the study. First, there is lack of shared vision and understanding regarding the purpose for the SOE Annual Reports. Second, there is a disconnect between the SOE Annual Reports and the impact that they play in the decision-making process related to resource allocation. Third, the level of dialogue and impact that the SOE Annual Reports facilitate at the department and programmatic level is mixed. Finally, there has been minimal training for the SOE Annual Report process, which has resulted in a lack of quality in the reports. In turn, this has resulted in an overall frustration with the process for those that are involved in the SOE Annual Report process. The findings and recommendations in this study provide the SOE at St. Alexander a pathway to move forward with an Annual Report Process that positively influences the building of learning community, while positively impacting the decision-making process.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Edmundo Litton
    Stories of Persistence: Filipina/o American Undergraduate Students in a Private, Catholic, and Predominantly White University

    At more than three million, Filipina/o Americans are one of the largest ethnic minority groups in the United States. Yet, few studies have focused on the experiences of Filipina/o Americans in institutions of U.S. higher education. Given the increasing disparity in degree achievement between first and second generation Filipina/o Americans, this qualitative study investigated the challenges to persistence that Filipina/o American undergraduates have faced in college and identified resources and strategies that have facilitated their survival in higher education. Through individual interviews and a focus group, participants shared their experiences in a private, Catholic, and predominantly White institution. This study found that challenges to persistence included feelings of cultural dissonance between Filipina/o Americans and a predominantly White and affluent student body, feelings of invisibility and marginality due to lack of representation in the institution's academic and social spheres, and personal academic challenges. Their stories also elucidated that despite these struggles, students were able to persist. Campus subcultures such as ethnic and cultural organizations, an Asian- interest sorority, and service organizations were primary factors in persistence. Additionally, the support of family was key in fostering participants' educational aspirations. Institutional characteristics such as size, religious affiliation and mission, and available resources were also cited as important factors in building their commitment to persist. The stories shared in this study are a testament to the need to destabilize dominant narrative of persistence in higher education to include Filipina/o American students who are often overlooked as a result of the model minority myth.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Edmundo Litton
    Portraits by African-American Male University Students: A Retrospective Study

    African-American male students are systematically forced to confine themselves to the social construct that European-American society has developed for them. Actions, behaviors, and words that communicate this message spread both interracially and intraracially within schools and affect African-American males tremendously in terms of their identity development and personal well-being. While many studies examine the overt forms of racism and more obvious microaggressions that African-American male students encounter in their schooling, few look at the deep-seated forms of racism that are less noticeable but that have a disastrous psychological impact on these students. This study shows the effects on the psyche and development of the three African-American male students involved as they retrospectively recount their secondary school experiences. Portraiture is used to capture each participant's story accurately and clearly while critical race theory is interwoven throughout as theoretical framework for this research. Using both critical race theory and portraiture, a complete examination of how racism occurs within schools and its effects on African-American males is shown.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Mary McCullough
    College Preparation in a Low-Income, Urban, Public High School: A Case Study

    College Preparation in a Low-Income, Urban, Public High School: A Case Study College preparation for low-income, urban, minority students is the subject of this ethnographic case study. Previous research indicates that for these students the notion that college is the next step after high school graduation may be considered unrealistic, especially if parents or other family members lack postsecondary education experiences.

    This was a qualitative case study of one comprehensive urban high school located in a predominantly middle to upper class White neighborhood. People residing in this neighborhood were older and the majority no longer had children of high school age. Therefore, over half the student body (70%) were African-American teenagers bused from surrounding low-income, urban areas.

    The purpose of the study was to look for evidence of indicators believed necessary to create and foster a college-going culture in a low-income, urban, public high school. The findings suggested that students from lower socioeconomic groups, those with high aspirations, and even those who qualify for college acceptance, often lack the information and support necessary to negotiate the postsecondary application and enrollment processes. Adopting a college-going mission is as much a mentality as it is an objective, and requires active awareness and participation by all stakeholders including students, families, schools, and the community.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shane P. Martin
    Revenue-Based Financial Modeling: A Sustainable Model for Medium-Size, Private, Mission-Based Schools of Education

    This study examined the implementation and assessment of revenue-based budgeting at a medium-size, private, mission-based graduate school of education (SOE), under the pseudonym Peter Claver University (PCU). Additionally, two other similar schools were included in the study because they used revenue-based budgeting for a period of 10 years or longer and their missions were comparable to that of PCU's SOE.

    A survey and three interviews were conducted with the deans of the three schools and responses were subjected to content analysis and triangulation. Points of consensus between the deans were the following: a strong favor for the revenue-based budgeting model; the desire for regular assessment to determine the success of the revenue-based budget and to update the model based on new economies and forecasting; the belief that revenue-based budgeting would give the deans more control over their schools' futures; and the conviction that revenue-based budgeting provided the deans with the flexibility to accomplish the strategic goals of the school.

    The major findings included that budget models need to be tailored to the institution's goals and academic objectives; no specific revenue-budget formula fits all institutions; SOEs will be successful by having an interdependent financial model; deans are expected to be financially savvy; there are no service level agreements between SOEs and the service departments; SOEs with higher percentage of faculty receiving grants can be more innovative; assessment of the revenue-based model on an as-need-basis and rarely happens; and deans are supportive of a revenue-based budget model.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shane P. Martin
    College Knowledge Development among Immigrant Latino Parents

    Among ethnic groups in California, Latinos continue to have the lowest high school graduation rates and the lowest college completion rates. This study focused on understanding the role parents can play and ways schools and educators can support immigrant Latino parents to improve these rates.

    Framed with a funds of knowledge approach (Gonzalez, N., Moll, L., & Amanti, C.,2005), this mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative study was conducted in a public charter high school in a low income area of Los Angeles where the student body was primarily Latino. The mission of the school was to prepare students for higher education at a four-year institution.

    The study results showed that it is possible for a school to engage immigrant Latino parents. With a better understanding of the aspirations, fears, and challenges faced by this community, the information can be provided in a form that is meaningful and that builds upon existing funds of knowledge. Critical components of the college outreach program were seeking parent input, developing a parent outreach plan, making information accessible, encouraging parent college visits, disseminating information beginning in middle school, providing personalized guidance, developing an undocumented student support plan, and creating a college-going culture. Implementing the the college access program encompassed gathering informal and formal feedback, presenting workshops, making documents available in Spanish as well as English, defining terms, arranging college visits, sending and displaying motivating communications, and engaging staff, students, and parents every step of the way.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Elizabeth Stoddard
    Factors Impacting Persistence for African-American and Latino Community College Students

    Persistence of African-American and Latino community college students has lagged behind other ethnic groups. The longitudinal study covered three years that included four semesters. Data from aggregated records of a community college in Southern California were analyzed to gain better understanding of factors that could explain varying rates of persistence. The data represented 609 African-American and Latino community college students who enrolled for the first-time in the fall 2006 semester. In addition to descriptive analysis, the data were subjected to t-tests, Pearson correlation, and multiple regression.

    These findings revealed that access to a college counselor (p < .01) and offers of financial aid assistance (p < .01) and services from EOPS (p < .05) significantly and positively influenced persistence. The impact of age and SES differed by ethnicity. Older African-American students (p < .01) and younger Latino students (p < .01) were more likely to persist. Socioeconomic status (p < .01) was found to significantly influence persistence for African-American students. SES was not found to be significant in Latino community college student persistence. Age, gender, and completing a personal development course did not significantly influence African-American or Latino community college student persistence.

    The findings can help educators understand African-American and Latino community college student persistence. Community college counselors can facilitate persistence and can have the greatest impact when their contact with students occurs early in the college experience. Further, high schools and community colleges need to work together to disperse information and encourage students to plan for their college education.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Magaly Lavadenz
    Tie-dyed Realities in a Monochromatic World: Deconstructing the Effects of Racial Microagressions on Black-White Multicultural University Students

    Traditional policies dictate that Black-White multiracial people conform to monoracial minority status arising from Hypodescent (the "One-Drop Rule") and White privilege. Despite some social recognition of Black-White persons as multiracial, racial microaggressions persist in daily life. Subtle racist acts (Sue, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal, & Esquilin, 2007b) negatively impact multiracial identity development. Since 2007, studies have increasingly focused on the impact of racial microaggressions on particular monoracial ethnic groups. Johnston and Nadal (2010) delineated general racial microaggressions for multiracial people. This project examines the effects of racial microaggressions on the multiracial identity development of 11 part-Black multiracial university students, including the concerns and challenges they face in familial, academic, and social racial identity formation. Data were analyzed through a typological analysis and Racial and Multiracial Microaggressions typologies (Johnston & Nadal, 2010; Sue et al., 2007b). Three themes arose: (a) the external societal pressure for the multiracial person to identify monoracially; (b) the internalized struggle within the mixed-race person to create a cohesive self-identity; and (c) the assertion of a multiracial identity. Participants experienced Racial Microaggressions (Sue, 2010a; Sue et al., 2007b), Multiracial Microaggressions (Johnston & Nadal, 2010), and Monoracial Stereotypes (Nadal, Wong, Griffin, Sriken, Vargas, Wideman, & Kolawole, 2011). Implications included encouraging a multiracial identity, educating the school community, and eliminating racial microaggressions and stereotypes.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Jill Bickett
    I Am a Scholar: A Case Study of a South LA College Access Program

    This work is a case study focused on the practices of a comprehensive college access program that serves students in south Los Angeles that has maintained a high school graduation rate of 100% and a college matriculation rate of 98% since 1997. This study sought to utilize the voice and experience of students of color to discern the factors that are most effective in helping urban students of color and in turn, inform the future work of the college access community. The study was driven by the following research questions: a) which practices of a south Los Angeles college access program most impact a student's ability to matriculate to college? and b) How can the epistemology of urban students inform the work of college access programs? Through observations, interviews, journal exercises and document review, this study ranked the practices in order of importance according to the participants, and identified that structure and accountability are essential to the success of this college access program. In addition, the study revealed that the students of this program succeed academically because the program, provides students with structure, access and guidance; because it immerses its students in a college-going culture; because it offers access to academic and cultural resources; because it sets high academic expectations; because it engages the family of origin and creates a family within the program; and because it enhances the self-concept of its students: college access programs see students as scholars.

    Using funds of knowledge as a framework, this study also introduced the original term, "masked epistemologies" which refers to the shared experiences of college access students once they enter college. The concept of masked epistemologies refers to the experience of students who enter college via a college access program, who go on to feel like her ways of knowing, shaped by the unique experience of being a high achieving student participant of a college access program from an urban setting, are disregarded in the new, unknown terrain of college, and must be masked or concealed, only to be revealed in environments considered safe. The students' epistemologies go from being highly praised and admired, to being ignored to the point of invisibility. This study found that students of this college access program struggle with adapting to the social realm of college because they have not been exposed to class differences throughout their tenure in the program.