The Foundation of Mindset

Dweck, C. S., Chiu, C., & Hong, Y. (1995). Implicit Theories and Their Role in Judgments and Reactions: A World From Two Perspectives. Psychological Inquiry, 6(4), 267–285.
The Article

This week I am reviewing one of the references listed in last week’s research article blog.  Dweck, Chiu, & Hong’s 1995 article in Psychological Inquiry is seminal in the mindset literature.   The authors explore the concepts of what has come to be known as “mindset” – whether one believes that certain aspects of self are fixed or whether growth is possible (Yeager & Dweck, 2012).  In the 1995 article being reviewed in this blog entry those binary descriptions are labeled (respectively) “entity” and “incremental” implicit theories.  This research comes from the field of psychology and has worthwhile implications for educational practice.

Though this article is a couple degrees removed from any of our assigned readings for class, the authors sing what has become a familiar tune by now:  Be aware of bias.  Just as bias is naturally found in a scientist’s interpretation of data based on implicit assumptions, the authors suggest that biases or implicit assumptions also guide an individual’s view of life – in this case of “the way information about the self and other people is processed and understood” (Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995, p. 267).  Each individual is a “theorist” relying on implicit assumptions that influence their judgment and behavior.  In essence, bias plays a part on the macro level in interpretation of data as well as on the micro level in an individual’s narrative.

The article is very well organized with useful headings and subheadings and a well-written abstract that allows the reader to anticipate what’s to come in the article.  A thorough groundwork is laid, beginning with reference to psychological theories from the 1950’s, to help readers clearly see the authors’ path.  The meat of the study is examining biases or orientations toward two particular attributes – morality and intelligence. To establish the reliability and validity of the entity and incremental orientations toward morality and intelligence, the authors include the three uni-directional statements from the assessment used to determine entity or incremental orientation.  Both internal and external reliability are high as evidenced by the review of six validation studies.  The validation studies also show that a person’s bias or implicit theory is not a function of age, gender, political or religious affiliation.  Nor is orientation, or bias, necessarily the same across all attributes.  The biases for morality and intelligence are statistically independent.  For example, a person can have an entity (or fixed) theory on intelligence, yet an incremental (or growth) theory on morality.

Dweck, Chiu, & Hong (1995) propose that the two different implicit theories lead to different psychological stances.  For one who holds an entity orientation, for example, any encounter will be a measure of their (fixed) attribute, making every encounter a potential threat and encouraging defensiveness.   For the person with an incremental theory, every encounter is an opportunity to grow and learn (Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995).  As an educator, I want students to experience their encounters with life (including school) as an opportunity for learning and growth.  And the good news is that one’s orientation toward an entity or incremental bias is not fixed; it can be influenced by external stimuli (Sriram, 2014).

I have only a few minor editorial comments.  I was surprised to notice a couple of typos in the text.  They popped up without my intentional search for them – leaving out a word, repeating a word and forgetting a marker for one item in a list of three.  They were only slight hiccoughs in the reading and did not distract from the meaning of the text.  In keeping with the theory being studied in this article, I noticed that my explanation to self about the errors fall on the incremental side of things.  I believe the errors may exist because this article was published nearly 20 years ago before we had as much technological support to catch errors.  If the same article were published today, I’d be surprised to find more than one error.

One other weakness of the research analysis offered in this article is that the demographic variables of the study participants were not addressed except in the validation studies.  The authors were at Columbia University, an exclusive private institution, at the time of this publication.  They refer to studies taking place in their lab.  If their participants mirror the demographics of the school and are mostly White and privileged, will that impact the generalizability of the theory?  Might there be nuances in the theory with a more nuanced population set?

My Line of Inquiry

The theory of mindset provides a great foundation for the kind of impact I want to have as I develop my line of inquiry.  Research is supporting that if students have a growth mindset they are more likely to engage in goal-directed behaviors and to believe in their own self-efficacy and in the ability of others to change (Yeager & Dweck, 2012).  At the community college, many of our students have been marginalized and are skeptical about the system and how accommodating it will be for them.  If students believe the system is not on their side and they have a fixed mindset they are more likely to give up.  If I can encourage the students I work with towards a growth mindset, then their belief in themselves and corresponding goal-directed behaviors may increase.  At the same time, we will be cultivating the belief that the system can change and become a better partner for students as they pursue their personal, career, and academic goals.

Dweck, C. S., Chiu, C., & Hong, Y. (1995). Implicit Theories and Their Role in Judgments and Reactions: A World From Two Perspectives. Psychological Inquiry, 6(4), 267–285.

Sriram, R. (2014). Rethinking Intelligence: The role of mindset in promoting success for academically high-risk students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, and Practice, 15(4), 515–536.

Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets That Promote Resilience: When Students Believe That Personal Characteristics Can Be Developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302–314. doi:10.1080/00461520.2012.722805

A top-down approach to retention

In many ways and for a variety of reasons, I’ll take a top-down approach to research when looking at ways to improve retention rates amongst Hispanic students at private, Catholic and prep schools. One of these ways will be reading articles centered on retention rates of Hispanic students at post-secondary schools. First off, there is more research out there on supporting Hispanic students at colleges than there is at prep schools. And secondly, if I can discern ways to support Hispanic students succeed in college, certainly many if not all of the methods utilized could be used to support Hispanic students at college prep schools as well. I think that the tangential relationship between retention rates at both of these types of schools is correlative, especially since one type of school builds to the other.

I found one such article by G.M. Stern (2008) on Mercy College, a small college in up-state New York, and its attempt to recruit and retain Hispanic students. I’d like to think that an article about Hispanic college students in New York is relevant to my findings in Phoenix because I’d love to send my high school students back East for college. I think there is value to leaving one’s home state and seeing who you become away from home. One of my best Hispanic students is leaving us this fall to study engineering at Swarthmore on a full scholarship. He’s someone I’ll be interviewing for my research as well.

From Stern (2008), I found it interesting to learn that, “Of all undergraduates enrolled at Mercy, Hispanics comprise 29 percent of the student body, more than double the percentage of Latinos in the U.S. population. Last year, U.S. News & World Report named Mercy one of the seven most racially and ethnically diverse colleges in the North” (p. 2). This college in New York seems like one to keep an eye on because it is obviously doing something right when it comes to recruiting and retaining Hispanic students. One thing Mercy seems to do well is to do a lot of discernment of which students will do succeed at their college prior to students even enrolling. Stern (2008) has written, “The college is seeking students that fit Mercy regardless of their ethnic background” (p. 1). This suggest that Mercy has a strong of sense of self, knowing which students will succeed at their college because they’ve reflected upon this thoroughly prior to their enrollment process. This sounds like an important first step as schools try to better retain Hispanic students on their campuses: know thyself, to borrow a phrase from the ancient Greeks.


The author’s article was organized well and easy to follow. The headings were helpful, especially ones like “Retention Strategies.” I also found it helpful that some of its headings guided me to Mercy students where the article discussed how the students found success at the college. For instance there was Karen Quijano. Stern (2008) wrote of Quijano, “She didn’t apply to large campuses with 30,000 or so students because she considered the numbers too intimidating” (p. 3). I think that Quijano’s example goes back to Mercy College’s front-end recruitment of students they know will have success at their college. There doesn’t seem to be a point to recruiting in bulk. Rather, be it secondary or post-secondary, it seems best to really do research on the students early on in the enrollment process.

Literature Review

Stern’s article was not a bastion of well-researched theory on Hispanic education as it pertains to Mercy College, so in this case, I found his literature review somewhat lacking. Stern’s research centered on Mercy College itself, interviewing faculty, students, and administrators on the things it does well. It wasn’t just that, though. Stern also analyzed data relating to Mercy College in the context of the state of New York and colleges in general. Still, I didn’t find the depth of theory regarding why Hispanic students might do well at this college. I’m not sure if this is a negative thing or not. I plan on discussing ideas like indigenous methodologies in my research paper, but I also would like to have some “boots on the ground” data so to speak regarding tangible information from schools that are successful in recruiting and keeping Hispanic students.

Data Collection

As intimated in the previous section, Stern’s data, for the most part, comes from the analysis of college retention numbers at the school, data related to other colleges in New York and back East on the whole. Stern (2008) wrote, “Despite all of its efforts and successes, Mercy College can’t retain all of its Hispanic students. Though 29 percent of students enrolled are Latino, only 18 percent of its graduates are Latino. Why don’t the other 11 percent graduate?” (p. 5). After presenting this information, Stern went on to analyze the results and answered his own question by anecdotal evidence and interview data.


Stern did a nice job of allowing others to do his analysis for him. Just as I previously mentioned, the author asked questions like the one above and used more knowledgeable sources to provide answers. Stern (2008) wrote here, transcribing the thoughts of Carolyn Tragni, Mercy College’s assistant vice president for academic support, “’Some Latino students come in with barriers. They’re working to support families, sending money back to families, coming out of high schools that may not have prepared them for college – and for some, English isn’t their native language. We struggle like any college to retain a higher number of students’” (p. 11). The data provided by Stern supports that Mercy College is doing a good job of retaining its Hispanic students. What Tragni relates here is that each year attrition will happen with Hispanic students. I’d like to not accept this answer, and I’d like to find methodologies to offset some of the things that Tragni mentioned in this article as hindrances to Hispanic students finding success in college.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

Stern wrote his article as a researcher and inquisitor. I feel that he wrote as a reporter as well. Reporters tend to be devoid of opinions and simply want to parlay facts to readers. I found that here to some respect. His writing style does seem to distance himself from his readers. Still, the subject matter and research shows that Stern cares about the topic – or else he would not have taken the time to write about this college and its success with regards to the issue of Hispanic education. Reporters find that they must cover, for instance, car crashes or fires for whatever news source he or she works for. This topic does not cry out for public consumption and so Stern’s interest in bringing it to the attention of others proves that he does care for the population it relates to. I will say, though, that he seems very conscious of trying to relate facts and best practices without himself being a part of the data. This, I believe, only strengthens his findings.

Findings & Conclusions

Stern, through using this small college in New York, has found two things that interest me in my pursuit of finding better ways to recruit and retain Hispanic students at private, prep, and Catholic secondary schools. First off, know your own school and student body well and find students who fit profiles of success at your school. This seems very important. Schools must consciously reflect upon what types of students can and will do well by reflecting upon the types of successful graduates it has had previously. Once this reflection occurs, the rest follows much more smoothly. Secondly, support your students.  Stern (2008) quoted the assistant vice president once again, “What’s the key to attracting Latino students to a private college? The ‘holistic’ approach works best, Tragni said, combining one-on-one assistance from an advisor, identifying problems early, providing academic support and offering career development” (p. 12). I think one-on-one advisors, which is, of course, not something unique to other colleges and universities is vital here with Hispanic students, but, more so, it centers on how well these advisors are utilized. Students at post-secondary or secondary private schools need means of support throughout the entire school process. From Stern’s piece I’ve gleaned that the front-end recruitment process seems the most important with multiple means of support as something that is imperative as well.


Stern, G. M. (2008). Mercy College: A retention model for Hispanic students. The Hispanic    

          Outlook in Higher Education, 18, 55-57. Retrieved from



Do Educators Utilize PD?

Doherty, I. Evaluating the impact of professional development on teaching practice: research findings and future research directions. US-China Education Review, A, 703-714. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from


Professional Development (PD) that is centered on meaningful learning activities is professional development that is generally considered to be highly effective. In his article, Iain Doherty (2011) sought to address whether or not there is a correlation between satisfactory participant experience following a professional development session and educators actually implementing changes and utilizing skills and strategies learned in their teaching practice (Doherty, 2011). Previous research suggested that meaningful professional development focuses on several principles: 1) contextual realism that intimately connects with teaching practice, meaning PD modules are linked to challenges and practical teaching situations; 2) content that allows learners to connect new information with preexisting schematic frameworks; 3) the utilization of authentic activities that mimic how new information can and will be used in future activities; 4) offering multiple and diverse perspectives, and; 5) collaborative reflection that promotes articulation of new knowledge (Doherty, 2011).

Doherty (2011) utilized PD modules that were built with the aforementioned considerations firmly in mind. They gave University-level educators in New Zealand information regarding the implementation of various technological tools that could enhance the learning of their students. These tools included things like blogs, social networking sites, Wikis, among others (Doherty, 2011). Further, the PD sessions were not a sage-on-stage/sit-and-get style session; each educator in attendance had the opportunity create accounts and begin to use them during the session. To measure his results, Doherty (2011) gave the educators a “pretest,” that asked them to assess their own familiarity with the various web-based tools that they were about to learn about. Following the session, participants were, again, asked to self-assess their own knowledge, awareness, familiarity, and ability to implement the tool into instruction. Doherty (2011) found that participants were significantly more knowledgeable about the resources following the training, than they were before it.

To truly assess their own effectiveness, they came back to the educators three months after the PD modules had been completed and gave a survey designed to assess whether the participants had, in any fashion, begun to implement or use the knowledge gained in the PD sessions in their instruction.  Doherty (2011) found that the vast majority (91-96% depending on the technology) of participants had not utilized any of the technology showcased, despite very strong reviews immediately following the sessions. Doherty then sought to supplement his quantitative results with qualitative information, ascertained through interviews with willing participants. Doherty’s (2011) sample size had diminished from an initial 27 to only seven who agreed to the interview; only one of the seven had made use of one of the multiple technology tools in their instruction, and the others were unable to articulate the reasons as to why they had not begun to implement learned strategies.

Upon reflecting on Doherty’s (2011) methods and results, there are both connections and areas of strength and weakness, each of which I want to take a moment to address in turn. There are a number of connections of this research to my own community of practice. One of the things that we emphasize in my role is the follow up to ensure that educators 1) feel supported as they begin to utilize the methods discussed during the actual PD session and 2) actually implement the strategies and tools into their professional work. I think that had Doherty offered on-going implementation support to the educators, he may have seen significantly higher rates of tool utilization. I know when I have been a participant in professional development sessions, I’ve  left feeling very motivated by all that I am able to do with the new tools and strategies, but that if I don’t begin to utilize them almost immediately, that I begin to lose understanding of the capabilities and how to integrate them into instruction.

One of the strengths that Doherty’s methods offered was the manner through which he assessed his participants’ knowledge before the session, after the session, and gauged their implementation by following up with attendees three months after the modules had been completed. This gives a good understanding of, 1) at what comfort and familiarity levels those in attendance entered the session, 2) the effectiveness of the facilitator(s) in communicating the desired knowledge to the participants, and 3) how valuable the content was to the educators by assessing the rates at which they actually utilized the information conveyed. This approach was a strong one, as it assessed the participants are various, predetermined intervals, providing information that a short-term data collection period wouldn’t even come close to measuring.

Another particular strength offered by Doherty’s procedure is the application of interviews and qualitative methods to supplement the quantitative information. Doherty (2011) chose to interview participants to pinpoint why and how participants chose to, or in his case, chose not to utilize the information conveyed through the professional development sessions. Though they couldn’t self-identify the root causes for their inaction, the process of interviewing participants, in addition to a simple post assessment, offers invaluable insight that might not otherwise be communicated to the researcher. This research model definitely provides a framework that I can utilize as I begin to plan for my own innovation in the area of professional development, combining both short- and long-term quantitative data, as well as qualitative data to provide further information.

The last area I want to address regarding Doherty’s (2011) methods was a lens he lacked, through which he ought to have collected and analyzed data to understand an even more meaningful perspective on the role of professional development in education.  In the introductory paragraph, he writes, “[professional development] is important to improve and enhance student learning” (Doherty, 2011, p. 703). If educators are tasked with improving outcomes for students, and professional development is meant to play a role in that charge, then the improvement in student performance, either academically, socially, behaviorally, or otherwise, should be an essential consideration when measuring or assessing the effectiveness of any session, content, or implementation. Given that Doherty (2011) mentions that purpose of professional development, I thought the perspective that could be offered by looking at the change in student outcomes would have been a valuable lens through which he could have collected and analyzed data.


You take the good, you take the bad


Pinto Alicea, I. (1995, Sep 15). RESEARCH: The state of Hispanic education. The Hispanic        Outlook in Higher Education, 6, 10. Retrieved from

Pinto’s (1995) article “The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education” focuses on Hispanics and teaching positions in higher education. The numbers are growing with Hispanic women making the most progress with regards to becoming full-time faculty at colleges and universities (Pinto, 1995, p. 1). The author points out the good the and bad with regards to Hispanics working at higher institutions as members of the teaching faculty. The numbers continue to trend upwards in terms of progress being made, but the author goes on the immediately compare this progress to drop-out rates.

Pinto references an American Council on Education report. Pinto (1995) here describes some of the data found in the report: “The report also found that the Hispanic drop-out rate in 1993 was 27.5 percent, nearly four times the rate for whites. Hispanics comprised 29 percent of all dropouts even though Hispanics account for only about 12 percent of the 16- to 24-year-old population” (p. 5). Factoring in the rising population rates of Hispanics in America, this data is troublesome. As their population grows, much too large a portion of it is dropping out of schools. This is not trending well to say the least, and though major strides are being made, again, especially in terms of Hispanic women in higher education institutions, the overall data needs to begin to reverse itself or slow dramatically. Still, Pinto does a nice job of describing the heartening trends of Hispanic women in education. Pinto (1995) writes, “Latinas accounted for much of the increase in doctorates conferred to Hispanics. In 1993 alone, the number of doctoral degrees received by Hispanic women jumped 12 percent compared to 2.9 percent for Hispanic men. Although Hispanic men continued to earn slightly more doctorates between 1983 and 1993, the number of doctoral degrees awarded to Hispanic women increased at a faster rate than that of Hispanic men” (p. 10). The implications of this study need to be examined further. To discover the reasoning between the positive inroads of Hispanic women in education and apply it to all Hispanic students would be a great start. In terms of these numbers, there must be something useful that can be gleaned from the positive data sets. I’d like to think that it’s not gender specific and that something universal can found, upon analysis of the data, which can then be turned around to help the whole of the burgeoning Hispanic population.


This was not a hard article to follow though it was not organized with any sort of guiding headings. It read more like a block of text, but it was organized using paragraphs to convey that ideas were shifting or evolving. Still, the author was definitive in her writing, especially at the onset of the piece. Her sentences were definitive and non-esoteric and related directly to the data regarding college enrollment gains of Hispanic students along with the data on high school drop-out rates amongst Hispanics as well.

Contribution to Field

This article is important to my overall research, and it contributes to this field of study because it elucidates data, and it finds experts in their fields to analyze and support the data. The trends the author discusses are important. The growth of female Hispanic students as college graduates and as college professors is a trend to keep an eye on. Pinto (1995) writes, “Interestingly, Hispanic women made the most gains; the number of bachelor’s degrees they earned from 1981 to 1992 more than doubled, and the number of women earning first-professional degrees nearly tripled” (9). I would like to point out, though, that this article is from 1995. Because of this, there is so much more data to look at. One reason I chose this article, though, is that I can use it to show growth from some of the more recent college graduation rates of the last few years. Also, Pinto does provide solid reasoning for the trends in education which were valid in 1995 and are still valid today.    

Literature Review

Pinto’s use of literature supports her overall article and her data analysis.  She cites reports from the American Council on Education and uses quotations from the council’s director of minorities, Henry Garza.  I think both of those in concert strengthen any and all arguments that she makes.  I do feel like the numbers she presents speak for themselves but to then add in a council director as an interrupter of the results is even better.  Pinto (1995) quotes Garza here: “The study captures the status of Latinos in education,” Hector Garza, director of ACE’s Office of Minorities in Higher Education, says of the results of his organization’s 13th Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education. “It gives us a measure from which to judge our success rate. Latinos continue to make progress but still have a long way to go to reach parity and the education goals for our community” (p. 2).  I’m happy, again, to have found this report, not because it features the most up-to-date data but because it will serve as a baseline in terms of showing progress or a regression juxtaposed next to more recent reports.  Pinto also cites the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Bureau of Census Current Population Reports, and the National Center for Education Statistics.  Additionally, Pinto cites Ricardo Martinez of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.  Pinto (1995) quotes Martinez here: “We are deeply concerned about the pre-collegiate drop-out rates” (p. 2).  I also think using college success rate data compared to high school drop-out rates provided me an interesting contrast and gave me a clear picture of the status of Hispanic education during this time period. Congress are not helping us in this regard.” A major factor in the drop-out problem seems to be the language barrier. This is something second-language learners will perpetually have to deal with; however, being cognizant of this fact has helped educators develop early intervention strategies to better serve these types of learners.

Data Collection

In terms of data collection, Pinto utilizes the aforementioned reports, but she does not only use the data exclusively from 1995.  Pinto cites report data from as far back as ten years prior.  She discusses data trends from this time period and covers this time period in depth.  Also, with her data collection she uses authorities in the field to comment on the data.  I feel that this only buttresses the arguments that she makes.  It would be one thing if she takes a data set and comments on it herself, but when she cites ACE data and then supports it with an ACE director, her arguments are much more effective.


Pinto’s analysis in her article takes key data points found in these studies and make them accessible to the laymen.  She also does a really nice job of sub-dividing the trends found in this report.  For instance, Pinto (1995) writes this regarding the types of advanced degrees earned by Hispanic students, “The most popular category was education, where Hispanics earned 211 doctorates in 1993, followed closely by the social sciences, with 182 degrees awarded” (p. 10).  This is an important trend to note, and it’s one that I’ll follow up on when I look at some of the more recent reports on college degrees earned by Hispanic students.  She did go on to write that engineering was least popular of all advanced degrees (Pinto, p. 10), and I’d like to see if this trend has continued on to this day.  I wonder if something was enacted to support Hispanics in their pursuit of degrees more related to math and sciences because of the results of these studies, and I’d like to see if this measure was successful.

Since this article was written in the nineties, I’d like to see the results of increased doctoral degrees amongst Hispanics.  I wonder if Hispanic educators twenty years ago produced another generation of Hispanic students pursuing degrees in education, or did their influence produce the scientists and engineers of this generation?

Theoretical Framework/Lens

Pinto’s roles in her article are myriad. She’s a reporter, a researcher, a data collector, and a cheerleader. She’s an advocate and a critic. She’s a well-wisher and a chider. I feel emotion in her data analysis; I feel pride, and I feel like she’s disappointed. Mostly, I feel like Pinto is someone who cares about the Hispanic population and foresees a bright future for Hispanic students.

Findings & Conclusions

Ultimately, as previously mentioned, Pinto’s conclusions center around foreseeing constant growth for young Hispanic learners. Still, she sees a need for more intervention to better serve Hispanic students. Here, Pinto (1995) quotes Garza once again, “”We need a national plan,” Garza says. “For the Latino community as a whole, we have made progress in college enrollment and graduation rates, but we continue to have a problem with the drop-out rate and in K-12” (p. 3). Including this quotation amongst the data shows that Pinto has concluded that there is much work to do with regards to this issue. Pinto has found two sets of data with regards to Hispanic college students: advanced degrees are on the rise, especially with Hispanic females, but drop-out rates are far too high for Hispanic students attending high school. To use Garza’s quote shows that Pinto acknowledges of the success of rising college graduation rates but knows that there are many more goals still to be accomplished.


Shaking Up Logic and Methods

Before reading the content of White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology, edited by Tukufu Zuberi and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (2008), I was perplexed by the boldness of the title. I initially thought the book was going to go one of two ways, the first being focused on the harm white researchers have played throughout history (specifically in eugenics) or, second, the history of how white men looking at race have perpetuated racial methodologies about looking at race. I was soon to discover that it was much more complicated. To be honest, I had to read several sections of this book over again because the way race was presented by Zuberi (2008) was so different than typical research articles on the subject.

Most of the articles and books that I have read prior single out race as a major indicator or causality in their findings. Most of the previous research looks at the “effects of race” within their specific research field. However, Zuberi and Bonilla-Silva (2008) “suggest that when we discuss the ‘effect of race,’ we are less mindful of the larger social world in which the path to success or failure is influenced” (p.6), pointing out that “If we begin with a racially biased view of the world, then we will end with a racially biased view of what the data has to say” (p.8, 2008). Essentially, what I took from this is that one simply cannot look at the effects of race without understanding what the original influence is on the given situation (external factors). By just looking at the effects of race, one continues to perpetuate the biased view of the world just as Francis Galton did with his eugenics experiment to suggest racial hierarchy (Zuberi & Bonilla-Silva, 2008).  When Galton set out to find empirical data that showed racial hierarchy, he was already determined to show that there was a cause and effect relationship between genetics and race, hence, Galton was able to find data that suggested racial genetic differences to support his theory through molding the empirical data. Zuberi and Bonilla (2008) elegantly describe this situation, “empirical results may be a way to understand what is happening; however, these same data tell us very little about why it is happening.” (p.9).

I would have to agree with Zuberi and Bonilla (2008) in this instance. As researchers, we often get so caught up in getting specific results or seeing correlations that we often forget about the many factors and determinants that play into the empirical data we gain. At the beginning of this summer semester, I was taking another class that observed the effects of race in the K-12 system. Several assignments in the course asked us to reflect on given racial high school data and determine different ways to fix problems with the achievement gap in education between white and colored students based off of testing standards, grades, and dropout rates. So I would do as assigned, prescribing a remedy for the factors presented.

Looking back, it would have been beneficial to look at the resources that were provided to the students, the type of atmosphere, the learning practices and the effectiveness of the administrators in the high school rather than simply looking at diverse student’s success rates and test scores. Maybe looking at the bigger picture would have helped to develop a more accurate and effective answer than just looking at how to improve the grades and test scores of students of color.

Zuberi, T. (2008). White logic, white methods: racism and methodology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

How do they do it?

I’ve always been intrigued when hearing about Carl Hayden High School’s robotics team. I know nothing definitive about them, and I feel like I haven’t heard about them for a few years, but if I’m remembering it correctly, this high school from the west side of Phoenix competed with and won national robotics competitions against colleges like MIT.


At the time, I could not understand how this small high school could compete with some of our nation’s most prestigious universities. Learning about communities of practice has made it clear how this happened. My assumption now is that a culture was fostered, started by strong leadership and kept going by team members who cared about the individual members of the team but cared also for the community as a whole and most likely fought hard to keep that culture going after they graduated.

I saw that too in my high school, Brophy, with one of our recent grads. A few years ago, a member of our robotics team set out to bring robotics down to the grammar school level. Our wonderful student Gabe started a team with our adjacent middle school Loyola Academy. Loyola Academy is a grades 6-8 school that only students who qualify for free tuition can attend. Brophy is an expensive school that many wealthy parents send their sons to, but we also have ample scholarship students who enrich our campus, attending Brophy for free because of scholarship donations. Loyola Academy, though very rigorous in curriculum, has none of the affluent-type students you’d find at Brophy – Loyola students predominantly come from south Phoenix and many live in Boys Hope, an organization that helps children without parents find a family structure.

brophy robo

Well, our student Gabe started this robotics team at Loyola. Many of the members of the Brophy robotics team were perturbed because he left our team to do so. They were also disappointed because the middle schoolers began to beat the high schoolers in completions. And, by the way, Gabe has since gone on to the aforementioned MIT to study both medicine and robotics.

I will add that the Loyola team hasn’t been the same without came and this gets me back to our readings on communities of practice, especially the Jordan and McDaniel piece on robotics specifically, teams or communities need a strong group of peers to fall back and to strengthen the community when needed. Jordan and McDaniel (2014) wrote, “Learning to participate in engineering practices is one context in which uncertainty is particularly relevant. Engineering is an enterprise in which dealing with uncertainty is a central figure” (p. 4). This is why I see the role of a strong peer group so important to groups like these. I also see the importance of one transcendent peer who is able by personality or sheer force of will to keep the group together. Jordan and McDaniel studied how groups of your peers deal with uncertainty. I see my former student Gabe in this study. Jordan and McDaniel set out to study how peers deal with uncertainty in engineering and robotics. The authors detailed the disparate backgrounds of the students in this robotics group and went to discuss the group’s leader. Jordan and McDaniel (2014) wrote, “The teacher of this class, Ms. Billings, had more than 20 years of classroom experience and was recognized on her campus and across the district for her expertise in science and technology instruction” (p. 8). My assumption is that if you look behind the veil of the Carl Hayden High School robotics program, you’ll find a ‘Ms. Billings.” Certainly, in my story, Gabe served that role as well, and I believe that successful groups like these – robotics or any other from band groups or sports teams – will have someone to guide the community of practice through times and situations of uncertainty.


Jordan, Michelle E., and McDaniel Jr., Reuben R. (2014). Managing uncertainty during    collaborative problem solving in elementary school teams: the role of peer influence in       robotics engineering activity. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 00, 1-47.




Some hope for the future – Hispanic students and college


Mellander, G. A. (2004, May 03). Targeting higher education: Hispanic students and college –

by the numbers. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 14, 9. Retrieved from  

Mellander’s (2004) article “Targeting Higher Education; Hispanic Students and College – By the Numbers” goes into depth regarding the data of Hispanic students in institutions of higher learning, comparing graduation rates of Hispanics, Whites, and African-Americans attaining associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Further, the article analyzes the types of degrees that Hispanics attain which predominately fall into the categories of education and public administration (Mellander, 2004, p. 1).

This article also mentions the need for better service of Hispanic students in higher education institutions. Mellander makes this conclusion through data, comparing the rising population percentage rate of Hispanic students versus their college graduation rates. The author also uses additional data-supported evidence from specific studies. For example, Mellander (2004) writes, “Hispanics as a group appreciate education. In 1999, 41 percent of Hispanics 17 years and older participated actively in adult education. That seems like a large percentage, but even there, Hispanics lag behind other racial/ethnic cohorts. For instance, among employed Hispanics in this age group, the percentage was 44 percent; for Whites-53 percent” (Mellander, p. 4). The positive implications of this study are tempered by the comparison.   Still, the comparison may be unnecessary at this point in education. Rather, the positives might instead be accentuated.

The strengths of this article center around the illumination of trends in graduation rates with regards to the rise in population rates of Hispanics. Also, the article does a nice job in describing the types of degrees Hispanics do attain when they graduate from college. This leads me to implications of this text. As stated, when Hispanics attain higher education degrees, the degrees themselves are, mostly, in education. This is both important and disconcerting. Firstly, this may be an oversimplification, but maybe a generation of Hispanics needs to become successful grade school and high school teacher and college professors who in turn inspire subsequent generations to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Again, that may be an oversimplification of a current problem that needs to be addressed today. Further programs need to become more prevalent that facilitate Hispanics to graduate with degrees other than education and public administration.


This article is well-organized with informative and easy to follow headings, leading me to find exactly what I was looking for quickly. For instance, its first sub-heading College Completion Rates elucidates that current trends in education indicate that Hispanics do attain college degrees at a lower rate than other races and ethnicities.

Contribution to Field

After doing some research on the author, I found that Gustavo Mellander writes multiple articles under the title of “Targeting Higher Education.” This particular one centers around the numbers of Hispanic students who graduate from college compared with other races and ethnicities. Also in this series, for example, are:

  • College presidents: minorities and women
  • 2013 – A year to be remembered
  • Hispanic trends

It’s led me to clearly see that with this article and all the others, Gustavo Mellander is someone who I’ll be reading a lot throughout my research. The prodigious Mellander has served as the dean or president of multiple universities and colleges in addition to his writing contributions.

Literature Review

I appreciated Mellander’s use of NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) data. When reflecting upon a writer’s use of sources to support his or her claim, hard data to me always trumps anecdotal information. I probably should amend that, however. I learned from last week’s class that data is one thing, but the usage of multiple modes or types of data is just as or even more important. At the same time, Mellander’s article does not use additional sources to support his data. Quite simply, this piece, though effective, clear, and informative, is solely a summation of NCES reports. I do think the interpreter is important or even vital in all of this. Mellander may, given his experience in the field, pick out nuggets of salient data that other researchers and writers would not.

Data Collection

Another reason Mellander’s data hold gravitas and validity is that the statistics he’s using go back to the 1970s. It’s not as if he’s parlaying five-year trends on this topic. The author takes a long-view here, which allows the reader to gain a clear picture of what is going on with regards to the graduation rates of Hispanic students.


Though Hispanic college graduation rates lag when compared to other races and ethnicities, this must and will change. I think this will be due to the sheer volume of the Hispanic population. Honestly, I think this population growth will create positive reverberations throughout entities like universities but also even larger institutions like politics and our state government. I hope that in Arizona, for instance, the population will increase so much that certain politicians who do not support education will be swept out of the higher offices in our state. State universities will have to find ways to more fully support the Hispanic student population or there will be negative societal consequences. This falls, as well, on high school teachers like me, and I take this challenge seriously. The positive inevitability of the Hispanic population boom just might be the great educational opportunity in our state in the next 20-50 years.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

Through his data analysis and presentation of his findings, I notice that Mellander presents this information almost as an advocate or coach of Hispanic college students. His data analysis, in a strange way, makes me think of that oft-mythologizes, Knute Rockne “Win one for the gipper” quote. Yes, Mellander present NCES data in a highly professional manner, but he also does so, in my mind, with a rooting interest.

Findings & Conclusions

The author of this article is not happy or content with the data he’s researched. He uses the word “disproportionally” an awful lot. Still, the author is not without hope. It seems each time he uses a word with a negative connotation to describe data trends, he consistently follows it up with a positive spin on additional data. At the conclusion of his piece, Mellander (2004) relates, “Finally, it is a matter of not being either foolishly Pollyannaish or horribly depressed. It is good to remember that ‘eternal vigilance’ is not only necessary for freedom but essential for progress as well” (p. 9). I appreciate Mellander calling for “eternal vigilance” to close his piece. No matter the numbers positive or negative, no matter where the numbers are trending, Hispanic students, and teachers like myself, must consistently look to continue to build upon prior successes.

It’s like learning a whole new language.

It’s only when we have really mastered something that we can make it more accessible to others.

A big part of my job as a school psychologist is to explain test results to parents. It’s really important to me that they understand my results – how the information fits with what they already know about their child and how we can use the information to make school better for them.

And every time I get an intern, their first report looks something like this, “The Fluid-Crystallized Index (FCI), measures general intellectual ability, including both fluid and crystallized intelligence.  The FCI is obtained by combining the Sequential Index, the Simultaneous Index, the Learning Index, the Planning Index, and the Knowledge Index, and is considered the best measure of cognitive ability……

WHAT??? What does that even mean???

WHAT??? What does that even mean???

I know why this happens: at the beginning of the year interns don’t really understand what they’re saying, so they parrot what the professor or test-maker says. But by the end of the year, it starts to make more sense. They are able to make connections between the theory they’ve been taught and the real-life child sitting in front of them, and so they are able to use words that normal people actually understand.

It’s only when we have really mastered something that we can make it more accessible to others.

The articles and journals and book chapters I read last week knocked me on my butt. For one reading, I was on google every three minutes looking up words and phrases that I had never heard. Or I’d heard the words, but never together in that phrase. Or I’ve heard the phrase a hundred times and have always gotten by on just having a general understanding of it – but now I need to really grasp it to deepen my understanding of other concepts. Literally, I am not exaggerating – every three minutes.

It sucked.

I read several chapters from the Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (Denzin, Lincoln & Smith, 2010), which explores ideas such as localized critical indigenous theory and critical indigenous pedagogy. (Click on the links. You’ll enjoy it.) Essentially, they make the case that non-indigenous peoples (i.e. white/Eurocentric scientists) should not be the ones researching indigenous peoples (people groups native to a land, such as Native Americans in the Americas or the Māori people in New Zealand). To explain, I will use the word “We” in place of “non-indigenous peoples”, because of all the people groups described in the book, that is the one with which I most closely identify.

When We go into a place to do research, complete anthropological studies, or collect information to better understand a people group, We are really imposing Our own thoughts and ideas on Their culture. They already understand Their culture, but We don’t accept that. We want to find things for Ourselves, and then let The Rest of the World know what We learned. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, a professor of indigenous education at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, is the leading expert in this field. She purports that They should be allowed to do Their own research within Their cultural norms and bounds, and the research should not necessarily satisfy the rules Our scientific method has put in place.

Smith and other experts in this field suggest several structures that would identify cultural and critical pedagogy, which they explain in the book. But I found a buried line from the critics that spoke to my soul, “Working class educators criticized the theory because they felt its language was elitist and created a new form of oppression.” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2010)


This is my frustration with peer-reviewed research and generally with people in graduate school (especially those in doctoral programs). We can be annoying when we talk to non-doctoral people. We are just starting to learn about these amazing new theories and ideas that are blowing our minds. We want to share them with the world, but we don’t actually understand them yet, not in a way that we can internalize what they mean and explain them in a way that general society can understand. So we parrot what the professor says, or what we read in books, or what that really cool blog said. We may sound smart to some people, but in real life most are just tuning us out.

I have condescendingly called it “Drinking the Doctoral Kool-Aid,” and I have vowed not to do it.

But now I question my resolve. Language is truly acquired when we use it with understanding. I would never expect a child to wait until they could speak in full, understandable sentences before they talked to other people. And I would never expect someone practicing a second language to wait until they had fully mastered it before trying it out. In fact, it would be just the opposite – I applaud and praise their attempts, even when incorrect or incomplete. The only way they will learn and truly internalize this new language is by using it. Perhaps the same is true of doctoral students. We’re learning a new language, and we need to practice it. I give grace to my interns practicing their new language… perhaps I need to offer myself the same grace.

But I do still think that – at the end of the day, after we have mastered the concepts and the new language – we need to take it back down a notch. Research and innovations don’t create Access or Equity if they require rapid-fire google skills.


Denzin, N. K.,  Lincoln, Y. S., & Smith, L.T. (2010). Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies.  Los Angeles: Sage.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2010). Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies. In N. K. Denzin, Y. S. Lincoln, & L. T. Smith (Eds.), Critical Methodologies and Indigenous Inquiry (2nd ed., pp. 1–20). Los Angeles: Sage.

All about context

Shernaz B. Garcia and Alba A. Ortiz’s (2013) article, “Intersectionality as a Framework for Transformative Research in Special Education,” is an inspirational read.  The authors propose a cogent argument for analyzing disabilities and difference through the lens of intersectionality.  Essentially, their position is that intersectionality-focused research allows for a more nuanced and holistic understanding of the complex, dynamic and multi-layered issues or forces that impact educational outcomes.  Noting that we still have not achieved educational equity in spite of over forty years of research and various efforts to improve policies and schools, Garcia and Ortiz suggest that an intersectionality approach is what is needed to finally produce desired change.

I wholeheartedly agree with Garcia and Ortiz.  Reducing human beings to a single identifier or variable is not an effective way to understand them.  Instead, one must consider individual characteristics in context.  Two students who are of the same race can be in drastically different situations with respect to education based on confounding factors such as family socioeconomic background, neighborhood of residence, and school of attendance.  Therefore, it is essential to examine the complete picture and not just one aspect when trying to address educational inequity or any other societal problem.

For me, the most powerful part of Garcia and Ortiz’s article is the notion that a shift in the focus of interventions is also necessary.  After citing some educational disparities and the disproportionate amount of students of color and English Language Learners in special education, they write on page 39:

“When such large numbers of students from an identifiable group (e.g., racial/ethnic, language) fail, it is imperative to shift the focus away from student interventions to interventions directed at schools, programs, and personnel ‘at risk’ of producing ‘pedagogically-induced’ learning disabilities (Cummins, 1986, p. 666).”

This is such a powerful statement because the phrase, “at risk,” is so frequently used to label groups of students who are less likely to be successful academically.  Researchers, educators, administrators, and policy-makers who ascribe such a negative label onto students render the students as the problem.   Rather that point fingers at the students, we should reflect upon the conditions in which these students are being (mis)educated and disadvantaged.

This article pertains to my own research because I am interested in the retention, satisfaction, and success of Arizona State University freshmen.  When I conduct my research, I can use the intersectionality framework to approach issues comprehensively and from multiple angles.  Furthermore, I can be sure to consider conditions that impact student success outcomes and not just students when I ponder possible interventions.

This article is also meaningful to me personally as someone who has been a diversity and social justice educator and someone who has experienced multiple forms of both privilege and oppression.  I can relate to how frustrating it can be for an individual with many salient identities to be reduced to just one.  I’ve experienced it myself, and I have also seen it done to many others.  It’s important to always keep in mind that we all have unique combinations of identities, traits, and circumstances that constitute who we are and affect how we live.  Doing so will not only make us better researchers; it will make us better people.


Garcia, S.B., and Oriz, A.A. (2013). Intersectionality as a Framework for Transformative Research in Special Education. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 13(2), 32-47.

Researcher Beware

First year teachers are like brand new pennies, they have been untouched by the issues in education, all shiny and new. They start out with their excited smiles and the “I’m going to change the world,” attitude. This is not to say that veteran teachers are not passionate about their role, but it is easy to see that veteran teachers have a weight on their shoulders. As teachers, we fight for what is right for our students and work without the resources we need, but we give our students the best education we can offer.

I remember the moment I realized that my students were not given the same opportunities. I was a first or second year teacher and I was at a music conference, still shiny and new. I was in awe, watching a middle school band; they were amazing! When the band finished playing, the director had the kids stand and take a bow. I was struck with the realization that, with the exception of four students, the entire ensemble was Caucasian. I instantly found this odd, as this was not the case at my school.

Then the director started talking about what he did to get the students to produce such incredible music. He was adamant that the teachers in the room needed to make sure the students were playing on matched instruments. Matched instruments! I was lucky if my students had instruments at all. Not only were these students all playing on school instruments, but they were all matched and brand new. It was at this point that I became a little tarnished. I was astonished that he had the budget for that. I had to fight for every piece of music I had and instruments were not an option. At that moment I realized that my students were disadvantaged and that the director and I were not playing on the same field.

While I read the article by Garcia and Ortiz (2013), I kept coming back to the same thoughts of my students. What could they have achieved had they been given the same access to resources? Garcia stated, educational equity remains an elusive goal for students from non-dominant racial, ethnic, linguistic and socio-cultural communities…” (Garcia & Ortiz, 2013) Our schools are not equitable. The students do not have the same classes, services, resources or diversity.

As I contemplate my research along with the articles, I was struck by the fact that my research could have a lasting effect on education. It is doubtful that teachers and researchers enter their field with thoughts of holding people back, yet the unconscious bias one has, can do just that. Gould discusses this very problem.

Morton made no attempt to cover his tracks and I must presume that he was unaware he had left them. He explained all his procedures and published all his raw data. All I can discern is an a priori conviction about racial ranking so powerful that it directed his tabulations along preestablished lines. Yet Morton was widely hailed as the objectivist of his age, the man who would rescue American science from the mire of unsupported speculation. (Gould, 1996)

The research presented by Morton was, in his eyes, objective. However, his research held bias towards minorities and had an impact on education and society. (Gould, 1996) If one looks at the demographics of our schools, specifically race, and the access they have to resources, it is easy to see that the bias Morton held, still affect us today. “Education equity remains an elusive goal for students from non-dominant racial, ethnic, linguistic, and socio-cultural communities; the research conducted to-date has not been successful in altering this trajectory.” (Garcia & Ortiz, 2013)

I find myself wary of my own possible bias as I approach the start of my research. As previously stated, it is doubtful that any researcher has the intent of causing harm to another person or culture; however, it is clearly possible. How does one avoid such a disaster? If I were required to list my bias at this very moment, I don’t know that I would be able to write anything down. In order to know what one’s bias is critical reflection must be utilized. As discussed by Howard, “Critical reflection is the type of processing that is crucial to the concept of culturally relevant pedagogy.”(Howard, 2003) He goes on to state that “Critical reflection should include an examination of how race, culture, and social class shape students’ thinking learning, and various understandings of the world.” (Howard, 2003) This could also be applied to researchers and educators. If educators have a clear understanding of how race, culture and social class shape their own thinking, we would have a better idea of our bias and how we are unconsciously communicating these ideas to our students. What becomes plainly obvious is that researchers in general need to spend time in critical reflection in order to keep the bias from affecting their work, as it did with Melton. By using Melton (Gould, 1996) as an example, one can find the following guidance:

  1. Look at the whole picture, be aware of the sub-samples and be consistent in the collection of the data.
  2. Set bias aside and confirm that the results can be reproduced
  3. Keep an open mind. If the data leads to alternate hypotheses, follow it.
  4. Check the math and leave nothing out.

As I set out to tackle my own research, critical reflection will play a role in my awareness of how I fit into the culture I will be studying. By being aware of my preconceived notions of culture, race and social class prior to my research I may be able to keep my ideas of such from hindering my research. The idea that I could impact others’ lives is both exciting and intimidating, as there is a fear there that research can hinder as much as help.

Garcia, S. B., & Ortiz, A. A. (2013). Intersectionality as a Framework for Transformative Research in Special Education. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Lerners, 13(2), 32–47.

Gould, S. (1996). The Mismeasure of Man: American Polygeny and Craniometry Before Darwin. The “racial” economy of science (pp. 30–72). New York: WW Norton & Company. Retrieved from

Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 195–202. Retrieved from

The Implications of Scientific Misinformation on the 18th Century Biological Hierarchy

Stephan Gould’s The Measure of Man (1981) analysis and connection to my own research agenda.

Stephan Gould’s The Measure of Man (1981) sheds light on the 18th century scientific agenda of reinforcing racial or biological hierarchies in the United States. Through the manipulation of science, the data that was published and widely accepted perpetuated the racial agenda, maintaining the hegemonic power and relationship dynamics between whites and blacks. While other races were discussed and scientifically explored at the time, the greatest interest and discourse revolved around the intellects of blacks, and if their intellect should determine their social and political power.

Hierarchies have long been argued to be natural although they are consistently questioned and revamped to reflect contemporary political, social, and cultural perspectives and identities.  Thus, while hierarchies are constant, they dynamically transform and shift power within political, social, and cultural systems of identity. Aurora Levins Morales in Medicine Stories (1998) furthers this point with her position that those with privilege maintain that it is a “luxury they have earned by excellence, the natural way of life, the righteous and inevitable order of things” (p. 11). Morales (1998) also contends that hierarchies are used to “convince [those with privilege] that exploitation is not only justifiable but a kind and compassionate expression of their superiority” (p. 12).

While Gould (1981) demonstrates that 18th century scientific data was fabricated as a means of reinforcing biological hierarchies, he also states that “we must first recognize the cultural milieu of a society whose leaders and intellectuals did not doubt the propriety of racial ranking – with Indians below whites, and blacks below everyone else” (p. 31).  Those who supported the biological hierarchy of the time were divided into two groups. The first, “hard-liners,” believed blacks to be biologically inferior and their status in the racial hierarchy justified their enslavement and colonization.  Although the second, “soft-liners,” agreed that blacks were biologically inferior, they maintained that rights should not be contingent on intelligence (p. 31).

These groups were further divided into monogenism  and polygenism, those who maintained that all humans are the degenerative results of the lineage of Adam and Eve, as stated in the Bible, and those who contended that the human races began as separate biological species. Within the polygenist circle, there were two groups of scientists. The first group, the “lumpers” were scientists who focused on similarities between specimens to determine their biological relationship. The second group, the “splitters,” concentrated on minute differences as a means of establishing separate species.

Louis Agassiz and Samuel George Morton were strong proponents of the polygeny theory and were highly respected by contemporary scientists. While both men bolstered the polygeny theory differently, Agassiz by studying physical differences and Morton through craniology, the study of skull size, they reinforced the hegemonic understanding that blacks were closer to nature, and therefore inferior and not requiring equal rights.

However, it was Morton who manipulated his craniology data so extensively to support the biological stratification. Morton’s scientific process was to use ground mustard seeds to measure volume, as the assumption was that the more intelligent the person, the bigger the brain. Throughout his experiments, he omitted and miscalculated information as well as neglected to account for body proportions and sexual dimorphism (the typical physical differences found among the sexes) and their effects on brain size. He also systematically altered data to reinforce his subjective, prior understanding of the racial hierarchy.  Morton’s understanding and subsequent purposeful manipulation and misrepresentation of scientific data extended the long, unwavering shadow of science into the farthest discourses of race, biological hierarchy, human rights, colonialism, and slavery. To this day, the perpetuation of the hegemonic biological hierarchy is still masked by scientific data conducted and disseminated by those in positions of privilege and power.

The purpose of my research is to address racism that is paraded as science in the educational field. One illustration is that culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students “are grossly overrepresented in special needs categories” (Howard, 2011, p. 196). If the educational system has and continues to fail CLD students, especially under the guise of scientifically diagnosing them as special needs, research should be conducted into the causality of the failures. Through diagnostic research that is ethical and unbiased, in addition to accounting for diverse identities, the education system can broaden its myopic and misinformed practices of educating and addressing the needs of CLD students and communities. This, in turn, will initiate a more egalitarian political, social, and cultural structure that embraces diverse identities.


Garcia, S.S. & Ortiz, A. A. (2013). Intersectionality as a Framework for Special Ed Research.pdf. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 13(2), 32–47.

Gould, S. J. (1981). The mismeasure of a man. New York, NY: Norton and Company.

Howard, C. (2011). Culturally Relevant for Critical Teacher Pedagogy : Ingredients Reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 195–202.







Hispanic students and higher ed – a followable path reveals itself


Hall, R. E., & Rowan, G. T. (2001). Hispanic-American males in higher education: A

descriptive/qualitative analysis. Education, 121(3), 565-574. Retrieved from


Hall and Rowan’s (2001) article “Hispanic-American Males in Higher Education: A Descriptive/Qualitative Analysis” describes the initial oppression that Hispanic-American encounter with regards to education in America. Some of these forms of oppression include: unemployment, imprisonment, and poverty (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 565). Due to this, Hall and Rowan (2001) call for this in their article, “In an effort to reverse dropout rates programs and policies must accommodate Hispanic-American males who are less academically prepared but who have the potential for success in higher education” (p. 565). The authors describe trends in the education of Hispanic students in detail. Hall and Rowan use data to illuminate graduation rates of Hispanics versus non-Hispanics, but also the authors sub-divide and compare different portions of students deemed Hispanic like Puerto Ricans versus Mexican-Americans. Ultimately, the authors put the onus onto Higher Education in general as not doing enough to support Hispanic-American students. Talented Hispanic-American students should not be dropping out of college, and the policy process should be further counter-balanced towards enabling Hispanic-American students to graduate.

Hall and Rowan’s (2001) article, as mentioned, focuses on a myriad of different data sets when describing the problems related to Hispanics in high education. The authors also offer philosophic arguments as reasons to support change: “Consummate societies require human perfection which is beyond the possibilities of human endeavor and thus is an ideal. As a viable alternative, higher education can maximize the benefits of human development by designing/redesigning policies to accommodate Hispanic-American males” (p. 573). This strongly-worded article has numerous implications for the issues of retaining intelligent and talented Hispanic students in higher education institutions. The greatest being its focus on higher ed institutions’ role in all of this. No longer should drop-out rates be looked at solely as failures of the young Hispanic individual. There is more to it – college and universities must realize their role in all of this and redouble their efforts to support their Hispanic learners.


This report was clearly organized and easy to follow. The authors stated the problem at the onset of the text and worked from there.

Contribution to Field

This article contributed to the field as it first offered a comprehensive review of literature on the predecessors in the field of study. The authors created, in their words, a non-exhaustive analysis of focused-grouped questions given to groups of Hispanic college students. The authors utilized these groups for collection of their data, using “eight to twelve Hispanic American male college students and lasted 60 to 90 minutes” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 570).

Literature Review

This article’s strength just might be its Literature Review. As mentioned, it builds nicely on what came previously, interweaving the research and analysis of some of the older texts and articles that exist on this subject. Because of this, it serves as a foundational piece and starting point from which to proceed when looking at Hispanic students in higher education.

Data Collection

The methods for data collection and the data itself are not what make this article interesting. The data is taken from surveys given to Hispanic students on college campuses. It asks the students to define and expound upon issues that they’ve faced in their time at college. For instance, one survey question is: “3 What problems did/do you have enrolling and staying in school?” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 571). Another example of a survey question is: “5 What ideas do you have for successfully educating Hispanic-American males?” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 571). These questions – purposely open-ended – might be a challenge for young Hispanic students in the sense that asking questions like this to students pursuing an undergrad degree, young men in their early twenties, would not allow for the depth of reflection as, for instance, a student seeking a Masters or Doctoral degree.


To me, this is where this process became interesting in this article. The data collectors organized keywords that were repeated in these surveys and interviews. It almost felt as if they were collecting and organizing keywords as a Wordle does, but it was deeper than that. It, again, was interesting to me when the authors described the time-consuming process which now can be done in seconds using some of the algorithm software that is out there today for data organization. Still, the gesture was noble (not to mention it seemed novel for its time), and its results continue to be useful and valid in their field of study. The authors did utilize a computer program which they did mention, but this was technology circa 2001, not what is used today. Ultimately, the data was organized alphabetically and a color-coded system was used as well.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

I saw the hermeneutic for this article as one of outsiders looking in as a means of gaining knowledge. This knowledge, once illuminated, could potentially aid the next group of Hispanic scholars seeking higher education. I see this as a data collection for the purpose of gaining wisdom, a wisdom that could be passed down – almost as if the authors sought to create a document of “things I wish I knew before I started college” for Hispanic students. They went about this in innovative ways. Instead of creating a detailed list of student responses, the authors accumulated survey data and took it to original and new places.

Findings & Conclusions

The authors findings were not dismaying at all, but I noticed the types of Hispanic students who succeed in college, as listed in this article, are ones who are highly motivated and self-starters who transcended their peer groups. These students did not seem to be part of the norm or involved in groups of students who all went on to college. They were the exceptions, not the rules. And so, in one sense, not much can be gleaned from the findings – “special students will do special things” comes to mind. But that’s not the success of this article. We know now that, in spite of great challenges, special Hispanic students do make it to college, and they do find success. How does one become special? Well, that’s the challenge, but at least now a template or precedent has been set which those who seek this path and come after can follow.