Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Engaging Students through Relevant Teaching

On September 27, 2014, the Community College of Baltimore County-Dundalk (CCBC) held its first ever Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) Conference to discuss the issues that educators face when engaging minority youth in a school curriculum that has traditionally been Anglo-centered. The conference’s keynote speaker, Gloria Ladson-Billings, argued that CRT involves three components:

1. An emphasis on academic achievement and student learning
Teachers should focus on curriculum depth instead of coverage. Furthermore, teachers should understand that a high failure rate is not equal to rigor. Instead of being thought of as a sieve, teaching should be likened to a casting a net, whereby you can help everyone be successful instead of a select few. Class curriculums should therefore engage students of all cultures by relating activities to students' own backgrounds and including information that is relevant to the cultures and ethnicities represented in the classroom.

2. Cultural competence
Curriculum should be firmly grounded in students’ own culture, while encouraging students to become fluent in at least one other culture. The classroom should allow students to develop multi-cultural competence, not just competence in one culture.

3. Socio-political consciousness
School should not just be a place to acquire skills to get a job. Instead, it should also be a place where children learn to think for themselves and a place where our democracy is preserved by empowering students to think critically about the political and social issues around them. 

Today, CRT is more important than ever before. In community colleges alone, there have been an increase in the number of non-traditional students (40% of students are >25 years old and 1/3 attend part time) combined with an increase in the number of ethnic minority students (50% of students).

CRT should not only be employed in the classroom. It is also important at all levels of the school system. Administration, staff, and faculty should all learn to be culturally responsive in their efforts with minority youth. CCBC has begun to use a culturally responsive training model that echoes this notion, and it has been well received by faculty. Results have shown that their program has decreased the gap in academic achievement outcomes in the classroom by 10-20%. Hopefully more schools will begin to employ this method in the future and become able to better meet their students’ needs.

Suggested reading for more information on CRT: Dr. Ladson-Billing's book The Dreamkeepers

Monday, September 22, 2014

Supporting DACA and DREAM Act-Eligible Youth: What systemic changes are needed?

Picture source:
On Tuesday, the Migration Policy Institute and the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy hosted a webinar tackling the most challenging area in DACA programming: how to provide support for DACA-eligible youth. In order to be eligible for DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, youth must meet the following requirements:

-At least 15 years old but not 31 years old as of June 2012
-In the US before age 16
-Unauthorized as of June 2012
-Resided in the US since June 2007
-In school, have high school/equivalent diploma, or enrolled in a “school” program
-Can pass security/criminal background check

DACA is important because it allows youth to remain in the US and receive a work permit, social security card, and "in-state" tuition rates. While many might want to take advantage of the program, many who are eligible face numerous economic or educational hurdles, or might not know enough about the program to apply.

One of the biggest hurdles to DACA enrollment is not having the resources (like information and money) to meet the educational requirements of the program. To promote increased enrollment in the program and provide these resources, speakers on the Webinar suggested the following:

Disseminating information to those under 19 through outreach events
Programs in NYC and California have worked with community based organizations to reach out to youth. These programs range from presentations in the community to using “ambassadors” who have been through the DACA process who can not only help provide insight to the technicalities of the process, but also relate to youth who are beginning the same journey. Additionally, outreach in the form of flyers and websites can also reach a population that may not have been reached otherwise.

Providing support for adult education
For those over 19 without a high school diploma, returning to school to become DACA eligible can be a struggle. Educators suggest changes in the system such as providing money reimbursement for adult education to adjust for lost wages when returning to school.

Providing relevant programming to help adults ease the transition back to education
Programs like Bridge and English for Academic Purposes make returning to school a little bit easier.

Providing legal support
Programs in NYC provided legal advice to those who may not know if they are eligible for DACA. Lawyers mostly provide help filling out forms and helping people understand the legal process.

Providing funding for college students
In the future, immigration legislation may require that students have at least 2 years of college education, like the current requirements of the DREAM Act. However, many high school students may not have the resources to continue on to college. Scholarships and grants such as those from programs like “Invest in the Dream” can help students continue school without feeling like they are digging themselves into too much debt.

Through these avenues, educators hope to help address the needs of DACA-eligible youth and help them achieve academic success.

For more information about DACA, please visit:

MPI (webinar):

Creative platform for immigrant youth:


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Recruitment Strategy

In our effort to increase outreach and recruitment for undocumented Latina/o college students in the state of Maryland, we specify we are seeking all participants including UNDOCUMENTED & DOCUMENTED Latina/o students. Check it out!

Want to take the survey? Go here:

Our Growing Research Team

Welcome everyone! The start of a new fall semester has also brought to the research a whole new talented group of individuals to the research team.  

Lynsey Weston is a third year doctoral student in the School Psychology program at UMCP. She received her B.A. in Psychology and English from Georgetown University in 2008, and previously worked in sales and marketing for a textbook publishing company. As a member of Dr. Colleen O’Neal’s Emotions, Equity, and Education research lab, Lynsey does research on how motivation, engagement, and perseverance can support academic success among economically disadvantaged students. As a school psychologist, Lynsey hopes to work with teachers, parents and students to improve the mental health, emotional well-being, and academic achievement of students suffering from poverty, trauma, and other obstacles to success.

Molly Morin is a first year doctoral student in the Student Affairs Program. She received a B.A. in Elementary Education and Sociology from the University of La Verne in 2008 and a M.Ed. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland College Park in 2010. She is from Southern California and most recently worked at Chapman University as an Academic Advisor and Program Director for their First-Generation College Student Support Program, the Promising Futures Program that she developed at Chapman. Her research interests currently include college access and retention for underrepresented students especially first-generation, Latina/o, and low-income students and factors contributing to their academic success. She is excited to join the research team and will be supporting the qualitative components of the study.

Annie Marie Goldthrite is currently a first year graduate student in the School Psychology program. She received a B.S. in Human Development from Cornell University in May 2014 and is interested in youth academic success, minority mental health, and at-risk youth development. She looks forward to helping with all steps of the research process (especially data analysis!) She's excited to be a part of the team and is looking forward to using this research to inform her practice as a future school psychologist. 

With this collective talent we hope to outreach and recruit more participants, analyze more quantitative surveys, and conduct and analyze more interviews. 
Amy Fuhrmann, M.S. is a Doctoral Student in the Counseling Psychology Department at the Univesity of Maryland. She is dedicated to research and practice that promotes psychological and physical well-being, especially among populations with invisible identities, such as those with health challenges. She aims to conduct research that informs intervention directly through the experiences of participants, thereby developing culturally sensitive and reality-based conclusions to inform theory, further research, and practice. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Survey about Maryland Latina/o Students is LIVE!! Participate!!!

Survey Link HERE -->> <<---

Please help us recruit first-generation Latina/o college students in the state of Maryland! We have launched the survey that is part of a study we are conducting on the impact of the Maryland DREAM Act on undocumented and Latina/o students. We hope results from this study can assist students, administrators, and community members in the state of Maryland who are serving and working with Latino students.

We ask that you please share our survey with individuals that are 
  1. At least 18 years old;
  2. Latina/o;
  3. Have graduated high school or obtained a GED (not have graduated college); 
  4. Are the first member of their family to attend college; and
  5. Live in the State of Maryland 
In order to protect students, we are making every effort to ensure that the survey is confidential, anonymous, and voluntary.

Share the link with others in the state of Maryland who may work with undocumented and/or documented U.S.-born or naturalized Latina/o students who meet the criteria above. 

Thank you for encouraging others to participate. We really appreciate your support!
Research Team

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Member of the Team: Ellie!

The research team is so delighted to have Ellie Howe as our expert survey guru. When we started talking about the move of the survey from paper to an on-line version we sought out an enthusiastic quantitative graduate student.  Ellie Howe joined the team in December of 2013, and is a Higher Education Student Affairs Masters candidate. She received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2013. As the Graduate Coordinator of Off Campus Student Life, she strives to be a resource for off campus students and create engaging programming. Her research interests include gender based violence, stereotype threat, and psychological implications of campus climate. Her research specialties are questionnaire development, item design, and respondent recruitment. As a future student affairs professional, Elliehopes to do meaningful work with students that is grounded in theory and research.

Thank you Ellie for making this research process a little bit easier! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Campus Climate & Possible Impacts to Research Study

If you didn’t hear about it before, back in mid November 2013, there was a student group, the Young Conservatives of Texas, at the University of Texas-Austin that was going to do a mock immigration sting on campus to prompt a discussion about immigration reform.  At this same time, our research team was wondering how to reach out to undocumented aspiring college students and college students.  Even though this incident occurred in Texas, far from Maryland, such incidents make undocumented youth weary of getting involved with anything having to do with identifying themselves as “undocumented.” Talk about creating a campus or national climate of fear by simulating “catching an immigrant” and getting rewarded for it, like the event at UT was considering?!

To respond to this event, the UT campus community composed of students, staff and community leaders, put together an on-line petition to revoke the student group on campus and had a protest regarding the event.  Documented and undocumented students were empowered to take a stance against this event.  We are really living in a time when more and more students are “UNDOCUMENTED and UNAFRAID.”  Eventually, the YCT student group was pressured to cancel their event due to the public outcry, the UT-Austin's administration’s disapproval, and the rally. 

Courtesy of Nia Wesley

Although students in UT-Austin may be unafraid on their campus, this does not mean that Maryland students are the same. As a research team, we still have to be aware of the possible tenuous campus climate that can ensue if events like this would occur here.  To ensure the safety and confidentiality of our study participants, we will not collect full names of those students who are interested in being interviewed, and the survey itself does not ask for any identifying information. 

We hope that our study will provide some context of the campus experience of undocumented Latina/o students in the state of Maryland.