Access to Postsecondary Education for Socioeconomic Disadvantaged


Frempong, G., Ma, X., & Mensah, J. (2012). Access to postsecondary education: can schools compensate for socioeconomic disadvantage?. Higher Education, 63(1), 19-32.


The analysis of access to postsecondary education is essential to me as I embark on my journey with action research in education. I recently finished the article Access to postsecondary education: can schools compensate for socioeconomic disadvantage, which provided me with excellent insight on the relationship between socioeconomic status for high school students in Canada, and their access into higher education. The research was particularly concentrated on those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The author’s analysis was focused on research that continued to support a number of studies that have demonstrated that youth from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds experience some level of exclusion in postsecondary education systems (Frempong, Ma, & Mensah, 2012).

As I read through this article, I found it very easy to compare it to several readings that I have recently completed, as well as active discussions that I find myself interacting with in my professional life. The discussion of access to higher education is a common theme of discussion amongst professionals in higher education, especially at the community college where I work. It is very typical for a topic of discussion to focus on underrepresented youth and access for minorities in college, in my work community. Hence I felt much of the subject matter in this reading was very easy to relate to. I also found the article very interesting in its approach to weigh heavily on its data model and analysis to support the findings of the researchers in this piece. The use of multilevel models to examine access to education was an approach that I had not often seen, so I found it quite interesting.


In looking at the organizational flow and consistency of this article, I found it had a well-developed argument supported by previous research and current data. The paper first introduced the reader to the challenges of access to higher education for high school students in Canada, while also citing similar challenges in the United States. The authors called on several authors and scholarly research that was completed prior to their research to guide the reader in understanding the problem that students face. I found this key in helping the authors frame the need for their research and to then be able highlight the difference in their research and findings, as opposed to other research on similar subject matter. The data analysis helped to drive the idea of the research and to formulate the research’s significant findings. The authors then finalized their piece by presenting their findings in a five step model to ensure the readers had a clear vision of the data as it related to the research conducted.

Contribution to the Field

Did I feel this journal reading was worthwhile and carried strength in its argument? Yes, I believe this article can be a resource for me moving forward in my own research. It contributed to my knowledge base by increasing my awareness in regards to the challenges of access in higher education outside of the U.S. I believe working domestically can sometimes narrow the concept of professionals and researchers in respect to the trials that face the academic world on a global level. The research presented in this article also supports the idea that socioeconomic status is prevalent in communities across the world, just as it is in my own community. The presentation of findings in this report were essential for me. The way they were presented was clear and concise, making it easy for readers to comprehend. I see that as an asset in identifying ways I can present my own research. I certainly see some of the research conducted with this study as a resource for me, as I move into my participatory action research experience.

Literature Review

As previously mentioned, the arrangement of findings and the presentation of the research were key pieces for me with this reading. I respected the way the authors presented their findings in five phases based off the strategic questions they wanted to answer. In my opinion, it helped frame the organization of their research to their audience. I also felt that the use of statistical analysis to show the limitation of access to postsecondary education based off of socioeconomic status and challenges was excellent. The reading did take on a more scientific feel because of this; however I was still captivated, by the way the authors related their data to the various student backgrounds and societal makings of the community in which they were conducting their research. In an example, the authors use the results from a Youth in Transition Survey as the basis for their research, but then did an excellent job at humanizing the findings by highlighting themes of student-teacher relationships and the vulnerability of student experiences based on school surroundings. The fore mentioned issues played key for me in this reading.

Theoretical Review

The theoretical framework of the study presented in this report was taken through its entirety. The authors showed their framework in the onset of the reading, to help the reader understand what was being questioned. The information connected to prior knowledge, experience, and research from the authors and outside scholars. The intent of the research, the data used, and findings were articulated clearly for the audience. The report gave information that was knowledgeable and appropriate for audiences who seek a better understanding of issues with access to higher education in their communities.

Data Collection and Analysis

The data collection and analysis in this article was one of the most in-depth presentations that I have encountered in a recent review of scholarly writings. The authors in this case were very thorough in the presentation and interpretation of their research for this article. As a reader, I engaged a very a well-defined picture of where the data for this analysis was coming from by way of a survey model. The measures were presented clearly including explanation of dependent variables for the surveys conducted. The use of tables to present data findings was an essential component for readers. Also, another valuable component was the written part on how multilevel analysis was chosen as the primary statistical technique in the current study, because the Programme for International Student Assessment and Youth in Transition Survey data used are multilevel in nature (Frempong, Ma, & Mensah, 2012). Although I have not encountered current readings with this in-depth presentation of data and analysis findings, it is my understanding that the methods used in this study are standard for inquiry in education.

Findings, Discussion, and Conclusion

Although the Canadian education system may encompass some of the same Eurocentric ideas that are established in the U.S., this article helped me to get a sense of similar challenges being faces in other countries. I found the reading significant as I try to narrow my own line of inquiry on access and excellence in education. I am looking to conduct research in the realm of high school to college transition and the community of people within this research were ideal to who I wish to work. I found this research to be grounded, while providing a variety of findings on the limitations of access to higher education for Canadian high school students, based off of their socioeconomic makeup. I had an easy connection to the problem being presented and to the findings that showed relationship between economically challenge schools, students, and families, in relation to their education attainment levels after high school. The research tools I found in this article are important to my educational research objective and I hope to use them as a valuable resource for the future.

Indigenous Epistemology and Education

In the article Indigenous Epistemology and Education – Self-Determination, Anthropology, and Human Rights Teresa L. McCarty and guest editors focus on indigenous epistemologies and its role with educational systems, human rights and indigenous self-determination. The article first introduces a series of questions that helped to drive the research of the various authors involved as the scholars seem to redefine the indigenous research agenda within, outside, and for the fields of education and anthropology (McCarty, Bargoiakova, Gilmore, Lomawaima, & Romero, 2005). As the authors move through the article, there are different positions taken to look at native people, the oppression that they have encountered, and the lasting effects that are reminiscent today with the loss of language, culture, and community systems. The reading helps define indigenous people and relate their historical experiences to challenges that many still face today. It winds down by recognizing the efforts of research taking place today that is driving to revitalize indigenous epistemologies and reverse many of the negative experiences that have transpired.

In this paper, the researchers worked off prior material that found in previous journals and scholarly research that they could build upon. From my perspective, the author and co-authors were looking to continue the momentum in providing scholarly research with indigenous epistemology and education. The report presented readers with supporting data with statistics that highlighted the author’s position on how indigenous languages and people have been plagued over time. The readings also presented research that showed examples from various researchers who shared common ground in means of results to theirs studies conducted in this line of inquiry, but with different segments of people who were studied. In short, the different areas of research analyzed help to highlight a movement by various research projects that all support similar findings.

From my perspective, one of the main things that were discovered in this study is that there have been some recent success from scholars working in this line of inquiry. The research presented in this article provided excellent insight on indigenous epistemologies and the affect they can have education within different cultures and societies. The report also uncovered a common thread amongst various scholars who hold the same passion for reversing the trends that have negatively affected indigenous people. A positive component to this piece, the authors are very motivated that in time more scholarly research will be conducted in this field, more efforts will be made to reverse the cycle of subjugation, and that the articles and commentaries assembled here lead the way toward these transformations (McCarty, 2005).

The piece to this article that grabbed my attention most was the material focused on how indigenous languages have been driven to near extinction in some cases. I agree with the authors points that, the shift toward English represents a shift away from the indigenous (McCarty, 2005). As I read this part to the reading I immediately reflected on my own personal experience as a Latino growing up in the United States, and how I have been unsuccessful in mastering the Spanish language. The English language was the first language spoken in my home and my parents’ home growing up, although both my parents and grandparents speak Spanish. I recall while growing up asking my parents why I was not taught Spanish as a child and why they did not speak Spanish very often. I was given a very direct answer. My parents both attended catholic school in Arizona growing up. It was common practice in the past that students in this school were not allowed to speak Spanish. If they were caught doing so, they would be reprimanded immediately. An interesting fact is that all of my siblings and myself attended this same catholic school growing up, and none of us speaks Spanish fluently today. Ultimately I found an immediate connection to the authors and point of agreement as they described how society has driven indigenous people, their languages, along with many of their social and cultural practices underground over time.


McCarty, T. L., Bargoiakova, T., & Gilmore, P., Lomawaima, K. T., Romero, M. E. (2005). Indigenous Epistemology and Education – Self-Determination, Anthropology, and Human Rights. Anthropology & Education Quarterly36(1), 1-7.

Access, Equity, and Community Colleges


Gilbert, C., & Heller, D. E. (2013). Access, Equity, and Community Colleges: The Truman Commission and Federal Higher Education Policy from 1947 to 2011. Journal Of Higher Education, 84(3), 417-443.


The role of the community college has recently been brought to the forefront of higher education by current President Barack Obama as the United States strives to be a global leader with educational attainment. However, it was the Truman Commission that first brought concerns to Capitol Hill in 1947 with the concern of access and equity in higher education in the United States. In Access, Equity, and Community College: The Truman Commission and the Federal Higher Education Policy from 1947 to 2011, Claire K. Gilbert and Donald E. Heller offer a lens through which we can view and understand the trajectory of U.S. thinking about higher education policy from the end of World War II to the present day (Gilbert & Heller, 2013).

I personally connected to this piece because I have made my career in the community college sector for the last six years. I found some direct correlation to the articles general material and findings, based on recent experience at a professional conference for higher education, in which one of the presenters focused on similar material as the discussion focused access to higher education, and the role the community will play. Many of the topics I read through this article were familiar because of active research and development in my professional role. However, some of the historical information and findings from the authors were new to me, so I found that very appealing. The article did make a new idea for me in regards to research. The way these authors were able to springboard directly off of prior research to focus on what is happening today seemed simple yet essential to their piece. As I evaluate my own potential research methods, this article will be a valuable tool on how to use others research materials to bring credibility to my own. Another thing that grabbed my attention is how forward thinking and innovative ideas can pave the way for impact and change. The ripple effect of the Truman Commission is still being felt today. This article will influence me to strive for change with my own action research project to support access and equity in higher education.


Gilbert and Heller’s research was well developed and organized in its presentation to readers. The article did a great job of first introducing their audience to what they hoped to accomplish with their research. Next the article provided a solid background of the basis for their research, in this case The Truman Commission of 1947. The researchers laid out the initial intentions of the President’s Commission on Higher Education and their intent to review the progress that has taken place in the United States since the recommendations of the committee were presented. The report then concluded with findings that compared the commission’s recommendations against what has been accomplished to date. The article ready very clear and concise while presenting reliable information to engage readers.

Contribution to the Field

This article is important to my existing role as a leader working in an institution of higher education, and it is entirely appropriate to my current area of inquiry as an academic researcher. It contributes to the field of study because of the data and empirical evidence it provides. The author’s findings present detail on a monumental topic in higher education and how this movement affected access and equity in higher education. I also acknowledged strength in the author’s outcomes when they did not hesitate to recognize the shortcomings that still plague the education system in the United States beyond the Truman Commission findings. I found this article extremely valuable to me because it highlights the integration of the community college system and its purpose to help with access to education, which I hope to investigate more.

Literature Review

There were many points of this article that stood out to me. However, the key pieces of information that were most powerful to me is to see how progressive the idea of this commission was for the U.S. in the 1940’s. And also the material presented that shows how far we still have to go with improving access and equity in higher education system in 2014. Before this article I had some understanding of the Truman Commission, but not to the extent I do now. The article did an excellent job of educating me as a reader on the enormous impact this commission had on education policy and the development of the community college system while also guiding me to see the inadequacies of governmental processes in terms of education policy today. The author’s modelled the idea that although the commission paved the way for great change, several years later our country still faces challenges with many of the topics presented in this study.

Theoretical Framework

In reflecting on this article, I feel the author’s presented the reasoning behind their research and report. The article provided useful insight that help frame Gilbert and Heller’s intention to look at what has come about in a way of results in the U.S. since 1947 when the President’s Commission on Higher Education was introduced. The framework carried through the text appropriately presented analysis that supported the authors message that regardless of whether the report has been explicitly adopted into legislation and policy, its ideals and many of its specific recommendations have been incorporated over time (Gilbert & Heller, 2013).

Data Collection & Analysis

The data collection for this article was very clear. Gilbert and Heller used the 1947 President’s Commission on Higher Education report, as the basis to their research. They discuss the original report in great length to help layout the point of their research. They also use a variety of scholarly research findings, state and national statistics on higher education to help support their findings. The author’s presentation of statistics and data to support their findings were essential to me as a reader understanding the progression of the research results. Without some of the metrics being given in the writing, I would have found it hard to see the results in some of the findings being presented. The methods of data collection and presentation of the material seemed very traditional and easy for the reader like myself to follow and potentially replicate in the future.

Findings, Discussion, and Conclusion

The article Access, Equity, and Community Colleges: The Truman Commission and Federal Higher Education Policy from 1947 to 2011 brought some very significant findings to light. Gilbert and Heller were able to make logical connections to legislative and general changes in higher education since 1947. Their research document presented appropriate findings that helped me see some of the progress that has been made in higher education since the Truman Commission. I was convinced as a reader that there were sufficient evidence and findings presented for me to find this reading valuable and important in my research arena. The material presented made good connections to relevant material supported by qualitative and quantitative supporting evidence in supporting their research of change in access and equity with community colleges in the U.S. post 1947.

Challenging Traditional Theories of Cultural Capital

As I reviewed numerous scholarly readings this week, the article Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth, stood out to me. This piece by Tara J. Yosso was very powerful as it focused on critical race theory (CRT). According to Yosso (2005), “This article conceptualizes community cultural wealth as a critical race theory (CRT) challenge to traditional interpretations of cultural capital” (p.69). The author came across strong in her challenges to previous research in her area of focus and with the presentation of her own theory with the power of Communities of Color.  It was a very telling article that discusses racism and its role in the Unites States educational system, and the how cultural capital is truly an asset for students of minority backgrounds in the U.S. that continues to be overlooked.

Being a Hispanic male who was raised in the United States, and an individual who has worked in the field of education, the analysis of CRT always seems to captivate my attention. As this article provided a variety of material to the reader, I found myself agreeing quite frequently with the authors points of contention and theory. One strong point that I can reflect on was Yosso’s statement that, the shifting of the research lens allows critical race scholars to ‘see’ various forms of capital within Communities of Color (Yosso, 2005). I agree that moving the lens in general can unmask a whole world of new ideas and results. In this case, Yosso presented her theory in five views that corroborate the experiences of people of color. I agree with her six themes and how they present challenges to previous research, by demonstrating Communities of Color as entities with various strengths by means of measuring atypical indicators and the role of racism in education. (Yosso, 2005) The article led me to look outside the box in terms of the approach that I my take moving forward in my own research agendas. Looking at research that is not afraid to push the envelope and propose new ideas is exciting to review, when it is supported and thorough.

I found Yosso’s article interested me not only because I agree with many of her positions of cultural wealth and the powerful role it can play for people in education, but also because her research opened my eyes to new ideas for my own research agenda. The approach to her research showed that it was ok to go against the grain and not be afraid to challenge the status quo. She was able to show the strides that were made in research before her time on the topic of cultural capital, but also highlighted the need for research and the position on cultural wealth to evolve. I loved the way the six tenets provide a helpful guiding lens that can inform research in Communities of Color. (Yosso, 2005)

Another reason the authors findings captured my attention was because I can see many of the members of my community of practice that I aspire to work with, as members of the Communities of Color mentioned. Because I anticipate working with similarly diverse communities being discussed in the article, the reading brought a personal connection to me. The article made me think more critically about the concept of CRT, community cultural wealth, and my own research moving forward. Reading this article allowed me to open my mind and see that although research may have been conducted in my area of inquiry, that there are always new theories and questions that can be asked.

I believe cultural capital is an essential component to the world of education and Tara Yosso presented one theory on how it can be measured that strayed from other researchers looking at CRT. Reading this piece was excellence for me, as it reminded me to be cognizant of looking at research from many angles, and recognize taking a different path then the norm is ok.


Yosso, T. J. (2005, March). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91.

Making the Transition: High School to College


Venezia, A., & Jaeger, L. (2013, Spring). Transitions from High School to College. Future of

     Children23(1), 117-136.

In continuing my review of scholarly writings this week I found the article Transition from High School to College that provided information that directly relates to my line of inquiry. The title from the article led the way as a direct intro to the subject matter that was being given by the authors. The focus of this piece was to provide research and insight on the current trends of providing interventions to improve access into higher education for high school students in the United States. Venezia and Jaeger (2013) presented their research and information by looking at the state of college readiness among high school students, the effectiveness of programs in place to help them transition to college, and efforts to improve those transitions.

In looking at the formulation of the research presented in this reading, it was very easy to see from the onset that the authors were first focused on using more quantitative data to support their findings. The researchers looked at statistical data from various sources including the National Center for Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, College Board “SAT Report”, and several others. I felt the research was conducted from a more analytical approach than anything. Although the text provides some excellent support to the author’s positions, it seemed to be a report more motivated to impact policy makers. The study showed very little humanizing elements, telling me it was a more data driven approach with research methodologies used for this report.

The information presented to readers was turned to help one understand first and foremost, that there is a problem in the U.S. with students being ill prepared for college entrance. The report also lightly approached the idea that social inequity continues to hamper access to college in underserved communities in the U.S. The paper leaves readers contemplating the effectiveness of current measurement tools for college readiness, because it is something that history shows challenging to track. The report also helps readers to understand that college transition challenges for high school students is recognized at the national level. Hence, there is state and federal funding currently being used for success programs like TRIO, Early College, Gear UP, and Upward Bound programs. The article also reflects on common core standards, the push at the national level for college preparedness, and also presents readers with the idea that there is not one particular fix to guiding students in college and career readiness. The end findings of this article can be summed up in one of the author’s final statements.  According to Venezia and Jaeger (2013) “While great variation in approaches and implementation strategies will no doubt continue, the field would benefit from a more comprehensive and consistent method for learning what works across different types of reforms—for example, using similar definitions and metrics—to help clarify what is transportable, effectively, across different contexts and scaling needs” (p.132).

As a reader, the authors of Transition from High School to College did an excellent job of initially capturing my attention by presenting their stance and position on what the readings was going to present. The piece itself was very coherent from start to finish, and all topics were placed in a safe fashion, to help the reader understand both problem, potential solutions, and end findings. The data was structured into this writing nicely to help support the authors points and to help users continue to build on understanding the issues of high school to college transitions in our country. One of the strongest points made in this article came as the development of the argument was laid out. As a reader, I could feel that there was not going to be any healthy final recommendations to solve the issues being presented.

In reflecting on this reading, I think it may contribute to my research and field of inquiry. Was this article worthwhile? I would say yes to an extent. I will keep it in my archive for reference points that I felt were very sound. I will say the strength of the argument was not supported as well as I thought it could have been, because of the lack of connecting the reader with the human side of the challenges being presented. I know not all scholarly writings are intended to appeal to a reader’s emotion, but if the authors could have provided a more human element, this reading would appeal to me even more.

Some of the key items in this article were highlighted in the way the authors framed their argument and presented their story while supporting it with data. As I read through the material, the author helped me to see some of the challenges that are faced in measuring the topic at hand. Another part to this writing that impressed me was the author’s last take on the analysis presented. In addition to directly supporting academic preparation for students, capacity-building efforts need to focus on ensuring that large comprehensive high schools have strong college-going cultures, on providing the necessary professional development for educators to help all students meet college readiness standards (Venezia & Jaeger, 2013), was well stated. Again, not robust findings, but the author helped me understand there is more research needed in this area.

The authors of this paper made good connections with analysis and material being presented. As a doctoral student who is looking at research methods and tools, I defiantly found some of the examples and materials used as potential tools for my future research efforts. I found clarity in the way some of the material was presented, but also questioned some portions to the writing. I learned from this piece that sound data and resources can help the reader better understand the issues you are looking at. But when topics are presented that have little findings to help support current actions being taken, it can call for challenges in trying to transfer your message to the intended audiences.

I selected this article to review because I found some positives and negatives in how it read. My final thoughts were that the use of statistics and data can do an excellent job in helping support an issue you want people to recognize. The authors of this article did an excellent job at using national statistics and measures to help show readers the impact of the issue at hand. In my professional setting working in higher education, I have to work with top level leadership occasionally to present my view or ideas, and to gain support or funding for projects or other needs. The use of data to support my argument seems always to play a vital role in the impact I can have on my audience. The use of solid supporting quantitative data to help support any measure can always help. On the other hand, this study might be able to build on its argument and position by bringing more qualitative research. Story telling focused on the collective impact of the challenges being faced and the results to be had by some of the programs discussed may help this research become even sounder for the future. The result in reflecting on this article; I had some positive takeaways to help me in the review of research practices, but still many questions to ensure I can be a successful academic researcher in time. a successful academic researcher in time.

Success Through Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems by Etienne Wenger was a scholarly article that I enjoyed reading this week. The report focused on the roles of communities of practice and the successful environment they promote in organizations. Etienne Wenger, “argues that the success of organizations depends on their ability to design themselves as social learning systems and also to participate in broader learning systems such as an industry, region, or a consortium.” As I launched into reading this essay I instantly found myself in agreement with the research and findings that were being presented. I almost immediately began to reflect on current and past experiences from my professional community, that helped me grasp the point the author was trying to drive home with readers, of how imperative social learning systems can be to organizational success.

The article provided great insight on how communities of practice have been around, since the beginning of history (Wenger, 2000). The piece uses examples that portray the use of social learning systems from the beginning of time to current practices used in organizations of today. According to Wenger, “participating in these ‘communities of practice’ is essential to our learning.” The point being made was; communities of practice are the basic building blocks of social learning systems because they are the social ‘containers’ of the competences that make up such a system (Wenger, 2000). The author explains that social learning systems both inside and outside of our organization will encourage success.

I found myself reflecting on instances of my professional life that mirrored the experiences in some of the cases that were given in the reading. The examples varied from an eye opening experience you have when in your current place of work, or when removed from your everyday work environment and are able to engage a person or group of people who help open your eyes to a different perspective. The skills to help gain or share knowledge and formulate ideas in a community is important to the development of the culture and environment that established by group or community. Other illustrations presented in this writing of interacting at the dinner table, or working in cross-departmental work groups, all helped to reinforce my own belief that it is vital for people within an organization to break out of their silos and expose themselves not only in their own community, but also in other communities. By not being afraid to broaden your perspectives and open up to other communities of practice, individuals and organizations can help nurture growth and development while opening community members up to new perspectives.

Although encouraging interplay amongst various areas both internally and externally is great, I agree with the author’s point that, “social learning systems often run counter to traditional management practices” (Wenger, 2000).When groups or people start to engage with various parties, the potential for barriers or boundary issues can occur. “Boundaries can create divisions and be a source of separation, fragmentation, disconnection, and misunderstanding” (Wenger, 2000). Hence organizations must tread carefully as they encourage learning communities at all levels. From my perspective, the potential benefits of fostering communities of practice outweigh the downside to not encouraging this type of work.

I trust that for individuals and groups alike, finding a good mix of communities to engage with will help inspire cultural awareness, the sharing of knowledge, and the receiving of knowledge. Social learning systems will boost people to open their eyes to a variety of perspectives and, utilize these types of practice to help shape their identities (Wenger, 2000). As you reflect on this blog, think about the social communities that you interact with today, and contemplate where you might be without the interactions that have help mold you today. Consider times when you were able to cross your typical personal or professional lines of work. Where would you be without these experiences? I know for me being able to expose myself to a variety of communities, people, organizations, and practices, it has helped me to develop my knowledge base across various topics of social and professional settings for the better. Success by way of communities of practices is key.


Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246.

Improving Access for Success


Engle, J., & Tinto, Vincent. (2008). Moving beyond access: College success for low-income, first generation students. The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, 1-30.

In looking at a variety of scholarly readings this week, I discovered Moving Beyond Access: College Success for Low-Income, First-Generation Students. This reading was focused on college attainment rates in the United States for underrepresented populations. The authors focused on providing a well defined report that, “examines the current status of low-income, first-generation college students” (Engle & Tinto, 2008). The information presented was supported by data from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Beginning Postsecondary Students Study, and Baccalaureate and Beyond Study. Included in the report were metrics on degree attainment rates and persistence. The report also provided details on barrier’s that are being faced by the students in the selected research community.

The writers in this case introduced their research with an executive summary that focused on the four following topics.

• Why does college success matter?

• How do low-income, first-generation students fair in college?

• What are the constraints on college success for low-income, first-generation students?

• How can we promote college access and success for low-income, first-generation students?

Each of these topics was represented with supporting material that helped to frame the problem. The introduction of the study then continued to outline the issues at hand with degree completion numbers with the fore mentioned student populations. Graphical charts and information were presented throughout to show data and statistics on first to second year persistence, six-year outcomes by types of institutions first attended, transfer rates, student retention rates by major, degree completions rates, and many more.  Essentially the article was inundated with materials to help support the position being presented. Engle and Tinto (2008) feel that large gaps persist in terms of access  to and success in higher education in this country.

As an individual who is looking to develop my own research skills, I have put lots of thought into the best way to present my research to ensure it will be able to have an impact in the future. After reading this article by Engle and Tinto, it helped me to see that it is important on how you organize and present your research information and data, to engage and capture your intended audience. In presenting information and supporting data in a coherent manner that flows smoothly for the reader, it can make a difference on capturing a wider audience. For those who are interested in looking at research on educational attainment rates and college completion rates, I would recommend this reading. The strength of the argument was good, and the supporting material helped support the argument of the authors.

Moving Beyond Access: College Success for Low-Income, First-Generation Students grabbed my attention not only for the subject matter being discussed, but also because the smooth format, flow, and clear presentation of data within the report. It read as a very well put together writing with both clean, clear, and concise information while also showing support for key topics. The use of research data and statistics, to help support the final recommendations was a sound approach for this reading. Each area of the article was well defined, sections were strategically placed to capture the reader’s attention. The visual aids of charts and graphs were well placed, and  helped me see the result of what the writers were intending for readers to gain from their study. The reading certainly helped me see, “that while college access has increased for low-income, first-generation students, the opportunity to successfully earn a college degree has not” (Engle & Tinto, 2008). I will also note that the data and information were presented in methods that I understood and could see myself duplicating a similar style in my own research, in the future.

The findings that were presented in this report were significant and presented with a logical approach. Engle and Tinto did a good job at presenting appropriate materials by use of their research data, to support their theory. The examples presented throughout the writing engaged me as a reader and the authors choice to use visual aids helped to grasp my attention as a reader. Because they offered such a wide variety of data and material, the visual aids were well placed in were key to the supporting metrics not get lost in the writing. Although my preconceived knowledge agreed with their position, the study findings did help to reinforce my position that there is a problem with low-income, first-generation college students and the various barriers that are continuing to hinder college completion rates for this student population.

The conclusions to the reading were determined to provide insight and data to support efforts for educators and policy makers to improve college access and success. (Engle & Tinto, 2008) There was  a connection made to materials being presented and the theoretical position of the authors. The authors had a well stated position from the initial summary and introductory pieces; that continued to flow through their concluding words. I felt this article did a nice job of summing it all up in the end by making  sure readers understood the problem presented, and the recommendations to help combat the issue moving forward.

After reading Why College Retention Matters, I noticed its relation to the study Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection by Tyrone C. Howard. Although they are not directly linked, both articles crossed paths with their communities of practice, in focusing on low-income, first-generation college students, their access, and the educational attainment rates of these populations. I think further study in the combined areas of critical reflection, educational attainment rates, and research looking at success rates for minorities might help me build on this research. In looking at both readings that I blogged about this week, they have helped me as a reader come up with new ideas for research as my action research cycle swings into motion.

The Need for Critical Reflection

The article Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection by Tyrone C. Howard, is a reading that focused on the need for critical reflection by teachers in the classroom. The article provided a great perspective on the potential positive results from the use of critical reflection in teaching strategies, as well as the difficulties that are often faced by teachers who are implementing culturally related pedagogy into their teaching methods. The research presented in Howard’s writing looks at variety of different topics varying from data on the educational struggles of Latinos and African Americans in the United States to a case study conducted on preparing educators to teach by using critical reflection in the classroom. The reading presents a plethora of information on critical teacher reflection and the value it can present in teaching practice.

The article content provided me with insight on the delicate nature, yet strong value of bringing topics of cultural awareness, race, and ethnicity into classrooms. The research material presented in the reading helped to support the need for significant teacher reflection and to establish a more conducive learning environment for the growing ethnically diverse classrooms in the United States. Tyrone Howard provided strong examples of how the Latino and African American student populations have faced challenges to assimilate to the American school system, while explaining his theory of more critical reflection in teaching, and how it would improve African American and Latino student’s chances for success in education. The information offered by Howard supports the theory that teaching practices that engage in critical reflection can help breakdown some of cultural difference that may cause some of the struggles that these students face in the U.S. school system.

As I reflect on this particular reading now, I also recognize the points made by Howard on challenges that teachers can face in bringing critical
into the classroom. Howard states, “The nature of critical reflection can be an arduous task because it forces the individual to ask challenging questions that pertain to one’s construction of individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.” I can defiantly relate to these topic areas and how they can be intimidating and difficult for an individual to talk about in their classroom, and can see how many educators may shy away from these topics whether inadvertently or not. The article continued to grasp my attention  as it stressed the importance of critical reflection and how it engages learners in a positive notion, yet clearly defined that one must be fully committed and trained adequately to bring this practice to fruition successfully in their teaching and learning environment.

This article struck me from the onset as I began to think of the challenges that may arise, “as educators address the demographic divide” (Howard, 2013, p.195) that continues to grow in the United States. As a Latino who attended a predominantly white private religious based educational institution for the majority of schooling growing up, it made me think about how my experience may have been different in a classroom setting of this type. How might my experience have been different, if I were allowed to develop and foster as an individual in a classroom environment that encouraged teachers to embrace cultural diversity in the classroom, as opposed to limiting it? Would I have adapted easier? Would I have been more successful academically at a younger age? There are many questions this reading brought to light for me. My final position is to agree, “the need for critical reflection can be an important tool for all teachers” (Howard, 2013, p.201). If all educators adapt to culturally relevant pedagogy as Howard explains, the results to many struggling students in academia may prosper in the future.


Howard, T. C. (2003, Summer). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Reflection. THEORY INTO PRACTICE, 42(3), 195-201.