Technology in Transition Research

The widely documented high dropout rates for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds led me to focus my doctoral research on factors that contribute to low-income students’ success in their transition to college. Given contemporary students proclivity for social and interactive writing media I compared how students wrote about their college transition experiences on a blog, which allowed for peer comments, and on a word processor that did not allow for peer comments. A narrative analysis followed by a series of Hierarchical Linear Models showed that the interactive blogging medium motivated students to invest more cognitive and intensifying words in their writing than students who used the less interactive word processing medium. Further analysis revealed that over time peer readers developed a culture of commenting and they were particularly responsive to blog posts with high levels of intensifying, cognitive, and emotional words. To do this work I was awarded a Frances Degen Horowitz Dissertation Fellowship.

I currently head the Technology in Transition Research Group  and we are continuing analyses on the development of this blogging network.

The Community Voice

Dr. Colette Daiute and I collected and examined community college narratives to determine how students used the college as an agent of change. Based on this project, our co-authored showed that students used the college context to make connections with diverse peers. Interestingly, the analysis of over 400 student narratives and survey responses indicated differences depending on students’ immigration status, with immigrant origin students more often perceiving the community college as a space for developing skills, while U.S. born students more often perceived the college as a space for developing independence. Another co-authored article analyzing students’ perspectives on immigration policy is in preparation.

Educational Technologies in the Developing World

This line of research explores how educational technologies are being used to support learning in developing contexts. In one study, published in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, I focused on two ways that underserved youth in Sub-Saharan Africa used educational technologies. First, how a group of San created culturally relevant educational materials by transcribing and publishing traditional oral folktales in a dual language text. In a second example, I analyzed how San youth used blogging to make sense of their educational transitions, and to generate an interactive support network for social change.