2017-18 Minority Dissertation Fellowship Abstracts

Mónica González Ybarra
University of Colorado Boulder

“Here, I already feel smart”: [Re]imagining anti-colonial literacy pedagogies through youth participatory action research in an im/migrant housing community

This qualitative study focuses on the literacies produced, practiced, and embodied among Chicanx/Latinx youth in an im(migrant) housing community. Working at the intersections of Chicana feminisms, postcolonial/decolonial scholarship, critical literacies, and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), this dissertation explores spaces for [re]imagining literacy pedagogies as feminist, participatory, and as a way to disrupt colonial narratives and approaches to education that have deemed oppressed communities illiterate. The youth in this study cross and navigate borders, their families have been displaced by colonial projects, many of their lives have been criminalized, and their humanity called into question. Yet, this study responds to the urgent call within educational research to highlight the ways in which im(migrant) young people are producers and holders of knowledge, have agency, and above all, are human. The research questions guiding this study are, (1) how do the Chicanx/Latinx young people in this housing community engage with YPAR and Chicana feminist pedagogies as ways to disrupt dominant notions of knowledge production? And, (2) How does YPAR in community spaces inform the theory and praxis of Chicana feminist literacy pedagogies? The findings of this dissertation reveal that the literacies and knowledge of the young people in this study are etched on and within their bodies, shaped by their lived realties, grounded in land, and transcend generations and borders. Further, this study grapples with the implications for examining literacies in community spaces, de-centering school, and looking towards young people as collaborators in efforts to trouble and rupture colonial ideas of teaching and learning.

Dionna Latimer Hearn
Notre Dame of Maryland University

Experience, training, and perspectives of speech-language pathologists serving African American English-speaking students

With increasing diversity in the U.S., classroom teachers are faced with an increasing number of students from linguistically diverse populations. Though services for bilingual learners are readily available, minimal supports exist for students who speak a nonmainstream dialect of English upon their arrival in school. This quantitative study analyzes data from a national survey of school based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in order to investigate the effect of training and on SLPs’ knowledge/awareness and opinions/attitudes about African-American English (AAE). Results collected from 390 respondents reveal a significant relationship between the level of training received and SLP’s opinions/attitudes of AAE. This relationship underscores the need for increased training of SLPs and other educational professionals.

Tran Nguyen Templeton
Teachers College, Columbia University

"I know how to take a picture": Young children's photographic practices and the construction of identity

The era of universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) has ushered in a new set of learning standards for early childhood classrooms. As part of this, teachers are increasingly asked to use cameras to document children’s experiences. In an effort to “make learning visible” (Giudici, Rinaldi, & Krechevsky, 2001), these photographs of young children act as evidence for accountability measures while also giving rise to the image of the neoliberal child, the individual in the first stage of becoming part of a ‘stable, well-prepared’ workforce (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 1999). Simultaneously the children in images remain subject to prevailing notions of innocence and naïveté (Holland, 2004), as adults caption and tell their stories for them.

What happens when children co-construct their own identities through image-making? Framed within critical childhood studies, this work positions young children as a distinct cultural group worthy of study (Bazalgette & Buckingham, 1995). Adept with digital tools to write, construct, and present themselves through photographs, the 2- to 4-year-olds in this image-based qualitative study use cameras to take pictures in school and in their homes. Using ethnographic methods, including participant observations and child-directed interviews, I uncover young children’s identity work as we collaborate to interpret the multiple meanings of their images across time and context. The children’s photographic practices lend insight into the potential for participatory research with children. As we attend to the image as text, narratives as a way of performing and animating those texts, and the children’s multiple voices as mobilized in and through the texts (Luttrell, 2010), this work highlights young children’s power and agency and aims for a more complex image of children and childhoods.

Adaurennaya C. Onyewuenyi
University of Washington

The unexplored voices of the “New African Diaspora”: An examination of the racial and ethnic identity profiles, academic performance, perceived teacher discrimination, and immigrant advantage of 1.5 and 2nd generation Nigerian and Black American adolescents

Because African immigrants and Black Americans share identifiable phenotypic characteristics, such as skin color and hair texture, many researchers and educators have assumed that high school students in both groups have a monolithic Black identity, and have similar educational experiences and ways of coping with oppression, institutional racism, and discrimination. However, this body of scholarship has failed to acknowledge the increased ethnic diversity among Blacks in the United States—particularly the rising African immigrant subpopulation. Moreover, differences in group identity, culture, and reaction to inequitable treatment may distinguish the two groups from one another. In response, this quantitative dissertation will investigate how and in what ways racial and ethnic identity contribute to the academic performance of 300 Black American and African immigrant high school students. Study 1 prepares the foundation by addressing measurement. Specifically, it assesses whether the survey traditionally used to measure Black youth’s racial identity (Scottham et al. 2008’s MIBI-t) is applicable to 1.5 and 2nd generation Nigerian youth. Study 2 examines how the racial and ethnic identities of each group affects their perception of teacher discrimination, and assesses whether an “immigrant advantage” in academic performance exists for 1.5 and 2nd generation Nigerian youth relative to Black American youth. This study promises to provide a more nuanced picture of the ways in which racial and ethnic identities operate for Black American and African immigrant youth. It will also critically examine factors that can explain the similarities and differences in the educational trajectories of Black American and African immigrant high school students. Moreover, the results from this study will build on existing scholarship that seeks to shift our understanding of who is Black in United States as well as complicate our notions of how race, ethnicity, and immigration influence the educational trajectories of Black youth.

Eujin Park
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Education in our hands, on their terms: Negotiating educational reforms and racializing discourses in immigrant community spaces

This dissertation seeks to understand how two out-of-school spaces – a heritage language school and a hagwon (private test-prep academy) – in the Midwestern suburbs resist and/or reproduce racialized neoliberal ideologies (e.g. the model minority discourse), as well as how Korean immigrant families make sense of them. Community-based educational spaces represent rare opportunities for immigrant communities to assert agency over their children’s education, counter the assimilative processes young people encounter in schools, and socialize youth into their ethnic and cultural communities. Simultaneously, community educational spaces are shaped by the broader sociopolitical context, dominant racial assumptions, and current educational reforms. Thus, the project asks: (1) What role(s) do two community-based institutions, a Korean language school and a hagwon, have in the educational experiences and opportunities of Korean American youth in a Midwestern suburb? And (2) How do the processes and experiences that occur in these spaces reflect, perpetuate, and challenge dominant racializing discourses? The findings suggest that multiple social structures intersected to shape my participants’ educational experiences; their understandings of race, identity, and education; and the work done by the two institutions.

Maxine Roberts
University of Southern California

Mathematics identity and sense of belonging in mathematics of successful African-American students in community college developmental mathematics courses

Research and reports on community college students often focus on their deficits and failure rather than their achievement and the factors that contribute to their success. This study explores the success, mathematics identity, and sense of belonging in mathematics among Black students who are successful in community college developmental mathematics. Mathematics identity (Martin, 2000) is defined as the ways that students perceive themselves as math learners and doers. Sense of belonging (Good, Rattan, & Dweck, 2012) refers to students’ feelings of connectedness with mathematics; both frameworks contribute to strong student performance in math-learning contexts. Using narrative methodology (Polkinghome, 1988; Reissman, 2008), three semi-structured interviews were conducted over one semester to capture the experiences of 10 Black students in developmental mathematics. Four women and six men, between the ages of 24 and 49, participated in the study. Additional data collection methods included math educational history mapping, fictional vignette response analysis about student experiences in developmental math, and participant transcript review. Preliminary findings show that participants attribute their success in mathematics to their interactions with instructors and peers and their own commitment to improve their lives. They also identified racial discrimination in math-related settings as a detriment to their performance.

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