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Dr. Gilda Martinez Towson University Towson, MD 1Dr. Gilda Martinez.

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1 Dr. Gilda Martinez Towson University Towson, MD 1Dr. Gilda Martinez

2  Children growing up in poverty can succeed in school, despite disadvantages of not living in higher-level economic areas.  Many are able to succeed in school and beyond, going to college, pursuing higher degrees, etc. (Averett & Rodriguez, 2003). The question many people ask is, “How did they do it?”  Joyce Epstein and her colleagues have been working on this question for many years and have found three main categories that seem to help students succeed – home, school, and community partnerships (Epstein & Sanders, 2002).  This study aims to extend this research by investigating these three areas, along with additional areas that may have contributed to student success, in order to help future generations of students succeed regardless of their economic backgrounds. 2Dr. Gilda Martinez

3  How do students from low-socioeconomic areas succeed in school?  Who and/or what helps them succeed academically?  What has the biggest impact toward their success in school and in later life? 3Dr. Gilda Martinez

4  To organize this study, a case study protocol was developed and followed closely.  Yin recommends the development of a case study protocol, which is a carefully constructed outline of the steps involved in a case study.  This study’s protocol contained the rationale, research questions, target audience, conceptual/theoretical background, procedure, analysis plan, consent form, survey, and interview questions.  It was created and closely followed by the researcher in order to provide structure and to enable other researchers to repeat the same procedures and yield similar results (Yin, 1994). 4Dr. Gilda Martinez

5  The youth involved in this study are African-American students from low-socioeconomic areas throughout the United States. The students received a full college scholarship through the Ron Brown Scholar Program, and attended universities such as Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Yale.  In order to receive this scholarship, students submit essays, grades, information about school related activities, and their financial status. 5Dr. Gilda Martinez

6  Fifty of the essays were carefully selected as models by the Executive Director of the program, Michael A. Mallory, for publication in the book I Have Risen. The essays discuss the students’ environment growing up and/or why they wanted to pursue a college degree.  The students in this multiple-case study are the 50 students whose essays were selected. 6Dr. Gilda Martinez

7  Age: College Graduates (~25 years old)  Gender: 25 males / 25 females  Race: African-Americans  Current location: In several states across the U.S. 7Dr. Gilda Martinez

8  A multiple-case study is an instrumental case study extended to several cases. It allows the researcher to examine a number of “representative” cases, which supplies the researcher with data to demonstrate similarities or differences that may exist between cases, and as a result, to gain deeper understanding of a given phenomenon (Stake, 2000). 8Dr. Gilda Martinez

9  Essays  Surveys  SAT scores  Interviews  The process of relying on numerous sources of data, data triangulation, helps the researcher generate more valid and robust descriptions and explanations (Stake, 2000). 9Dr. Gilda Martinez

10  The essays were coded to study similarities and differences noted among these students, and compared to identify overriding themes to reveal merits/shortcomings among and between individual cases (Flick, 2002).  Key words included: home, school, community, role models, extracurricular activities, hope 10Dr. Gilda Martinez

11  The survey was created by the researcher and focused on home, school, and community connections  A focus group (administrators from the Ron Brown Scholar Program) reviewed the survey questions to ensure they would help in answering this study’s research questions 11Dr. Gilda Martinez

12  The survey asked: How important were the following in making who you are today?  The survey responses were on a Likert scale, where 1 was very significant and 5 was not significant  An area for comments was provided and stated: Others? Please explain what had the biggest impact on your life’s success. 12Dr. Gilda Martinez

13 The survey asked: How important were the following in making who you are today?  Parents/caregivers  Communication from home to school  Communication from school to home  Having your parents/caregivers volunteer at your school  Learning at home  Having parents/caregivers participate in your school activities  Having parents/caregivers participate in your community activities  Community centers  Public libraries  School libraries  Internet  Media  Others? Please explain what had the biggest impact on your life’s success. Dr. Gilda Martinez13

14  The survey responses were scored and the totals were averaged  The averages are reported for each response based all students, then segregated by males and females  The responses were studied to unveil further questions, which would be asked during the interviews 14Dr. Gilda Martinez

15  SAT scores were reviewed and averaged for the group of 50 participants  Similarities and differences between students were noted  Possible correlations between their SAT scores and their essays were analyzed 15Dr. Gilda Martinez

16  Semi-structured interviews took place after the survey results and SAT scores were examined, in order to aid in creating an even thicker description of how these students succeeded in life.  The interview questions were also reviewed by the same focus group of administrators, who reviewed the survey questions. 16Dr. Gilda Martinez

17  The interview questions delved deeper into specific questions the researcher had based on the survey results and SAT scores.  Examples of questions include:  How did the Internet/media/libraries help you succeed?  How did you prepare for the SAT exam?  What would you recommend to help students succeed?  How has the quality of your life changed as a result of your education?  Are you happy as a result of your education? 17 Dr. Gilda Martinez

18  The top six reasons these students succeeded are listed by order of importance based on the survey data collected:  Parents/caregivers  Learning at home  Public libraries  School libraries  Internet  Media The essays and interviews also supported these findings. 18Dr. Gilda Martinez

19  Based on the comment section of the survey, and also supported through the essays and interviews, other important factors that aided in their success:  role models  mentors  extracurricular activities  religion 19Dr. Gilda Martinez

20  The results indicated that parents/caregivers were the most important element in these students’ lives.  Having a parent or caregiver that believed in them, expected success, supported them, and encouraged them to continue with their academic careers was rated number one, as the most important factor that contributed to the academic success in their lives. 20Dr. Gilda Martinez

21 “Baby, I want you to go on…and do us all proud like I know you can do. Now, I know you love your old grandma, but I don’t want you to worry about me, ‘cause whatever happens to me rests in the capable hands of the Lord. Ever since the day you were born, I have worked hard to see this day…to see you go on to a better life and become a young man by taking hold of your future and getting a good education. And son, the only way you can disappoint me is not by leaving me, but by letting my hard work go up in smoke” (Fix, 2006, p. 20). Her grandson is studying government at Harvard University. 21Dr. Gilda Martinez

22  Conversely, some parents did not find it necessary for their children to go to college because they were:  afraid of the unknown, or  they did not value education This was noted in student essays and through survey comments. Dr. Gilda Martinez22

23  Students did not believe home-school communications were important because they simply were not occurring, therefore had no impact on their success.  Having parents/caregivers volunteer in school or participate in school activities also did not occur thus was perceived as unimportant.  This contradicts previous research about the importance of these particular areas. However, this does not discount previous research because it is known that the more home-school communication that occurs, the more chances for academic success (Epstein, 2001; Henderson & Mapp, 2002). 23Dr. Gilda Martinez

24  Libraries follow parents and caregivers in the ranking. Students said that having had early exposure to books, having people (teachers and librarians) motivate them about reading, and having access to print allowed them the capability of becoming avid readers, which correlated, in their opinion, with their ability to comprehend texts and information presented in school. 24Dr. Gilda Martinez

25  When explaining “What had the biggest impact on your life’s success?”, one student said, “I’m sure that an early introduction to, and fascination with books had a great deal to do with it [life’s success].” 25Dr. Gilda Martinez

26  Having read many books also helped enhance their vocabulary.  Their choice of exquisite words, such as transmogrified, assiduous, depravity, insular, and vestige, in the essays submitted for the Ron Brown Scholarship and their verbal SAT scores, which averaged 700 out of a possible 800, also indicated that they were exposed to, learned, and used rich vocabulary. 26Dr. Gilda Martinez

27  Some students also included inspirational quotes from books they had read, into their essays. For example, “The truth is the light and the light is the truth” was one such quote included from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (Fix, 2006, p. 48). This student is studying political science and broadcast journalism at Florida A&M University. 27Dr. Gilda Martinez

28  The Internet played an important role as well because it provided them with a database of endless resources and materials to read, learn, and become knowledgeable about regardless of their current situations.  Many claimed to have used the Internet at the public library. 28Dr. Gilda Martinez

29  The sixth element, media, was indeed important because having role models, in particular African-American role models (i.e.; teachers, physicians, attorneys, business professionals), helped them want to attend college and create those scenarios for themselves. 29Dr. Gilda Martinez

30  Through their essays, many students expressed a high interest in turning their negative situations around, not wanting to continue in the negative environment that surrounded them on a daily basis. One student said, “The man does not have a stable job. He has missed his son’s awards and experiences. The last time he saw any of his children was about four years ago. The man is my father…Ironically, he is also my source of inspiration” (Fix, 2006, p. 56).  Through media, however, this student was able to witness how others came out of negative situations and had been able to succeed; or, had observed African-Americans as leaders. This student is at Georgia Tech University studying engineering. 30Dr. Gilda Martinez

31  On the other hand, some students thought what they saw on television did not happen in reality. It was too good to be true. For example, one student explained how he began making friends with “white middle class” students from his school, and was invited to a friend’s house, “The first time I walked into the house of one of my new friends I saw a clean carpet, pristine white walls, parquet floors, plump furniture, and his smiling mother in the spotless kitchen, preparing an after- school snack. Before walking into that house I thought such lives existed only on the television” (Fix, 2006, p. 36). 31Dr. Gilda Martinez

32  He continued the discussion comparing his new friend’s home environment to his own in a hotel, “While I enjoyed my new friends, I knew that there were people back at the Will Rogers [Hotel], my other companions, struggling to pay their rent. There were so many people who led disconnected lives – lives without love, warmth, or dignity. I even felt a sense of guilt because, through choice, tenacity, and perhaps a bit of luck, I was on a trajectory that would enable me to leave behind the world of Will Rogers (Fix, 2006, p. 36). This student goes to Harvard University and has a major in history and science. 32Dr. Gilda Martinez

33  A topic discussed in various essays, that was not part of the other data collected, was racism  Students explained how racism affected them and expressed the need for change ( in the United States)  Two of the students had visited other countries (Germany and Cuba) and said they were welcomed in those countries, and individuals there were not concerned about color or race 33Dr. Gilda Martinez

34 “They have said to me that the only reason I am getting into a good college is because I am black. They do not see the long hours I have spent poring over my books, they do not see my fight to keep up my grades, nor do they see my struggle to be the best that I can be. They only see that I am black” (Fix, 2006, p. 38). 34Dr. Gilda Martinez

35  An average SAT score is 5oo, per section scores/understanding/average.html  These students verbal and math SAT scores ranged from: 800 (perfect) to 540 (above average)  The average of their scores was: Verbal = 700 Math = 670 35Dr. Gilda Martinez

36  Males vs. Females 36Dr. Gilda Martinez

37  After reviewing the surveys, essays, and interview data, males and females were similar in their views of how they succeeded in school and beyond  Parents and caregivers, learning at home, role models, mentors, extracurricular activities, libraries, religion, media, and the Internet had positive impacts on their successes  Parents volunteering in school/community center activities, home/school communications, and community centers did not assist with their success 37Dr. Gilda Martinez

38 Negative being:  Poverty  Homelessness  Drug addicted family members  Abuse  Racism  Family (when family did not want them to attend college) 38Dr. Gilda Martinez

39 Remaining positive through:  Parents/caregivers  Role models  Extracurricular activities (volunteering, debate team, student council, homework, writing, leadership positions, sports)  Religion  Libraries 39Dr. Gilda Martinez

40  Providing training programs for new parents, to teach them about the value of providing:  nutrition along with a  safe,  loving, and  nurturing environment 40Dr. Gilda Martinez

41 41Dr. Gilda Martinez

42  Since parents and caregivers play such an important part in student lives and academic success, they need to be informed about the importance of sharing literacy experiences, such as having conversations, reading together, going to the library, and modeling writing with children in the home.  These activities have proven to be more helpful in preparing children for school than even socio- economic status. These types of activities, in other words, can compensate for socio-economic differences (Epstein & Sanders, 2002). 42Dr. Gilda Martinez

43  Programs that promote literacy learning for the entire family are especially necessary, since parents are their children’s first teachers (Handel, 1999; McConnell, 2001); and, more funding for mentor type programs is necessary, to fill the gap for children who do not have a significant person or role model in their lives.  Teach parents about value of education, including college education. 43Dr. Gilda Martinez

44  For the students in this study, having a significant person in their lives (which included parents, teachers, librarians, counselors, neighbors, mentors, coaches, religious leaders, role models, and friends) made the greatest impact on their success.  Some students stated that their parents were drug addicts or abused alcohol, yet a significant person (such as a person from the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ program) had believed in them, helped them grow up believing they would succeed, and were there for them to assist with school projects or with other important life lessons.  Mentors are needed for students who do not have a significant person who believes in them. 44Dr. Gilda Martinez

45  Training administrators and teachers about conducting effective partnership practices is essential to the success of home-school connections (Chavkin, 2000).  This study emphasizes the importance of this type of training, since these types of connections were not occurring in these students’ lives. 45Dr. Gilda Martinez

46  Students commented that becoming motivated to read was also very important in their academic success. Thus, teachers and caregivers should provide students with books of interest; include a social component to reading (such as re-telling stories in a group); set goals for reading; provide good reading models; and give students time and space to read comfortably (Cole, 2003).  This leads to how reading motivation may impact school grades, and fine grades may help in maintaining reading motivation. This can also lead students in becoming lifelong readers and lifelong learners regardless of backgrounds (Colker, 2000). 46Dr. Gilda Martinez

47  Funding for libraries, to keep them open, with up-to-date books, resources, computers, and the Internet is of essence when providing access to print.  Encouraging library programs that bring books to childcare centers (or other community organizations) can also be very motivating and start children reading early on (Bagley, 2000), as some students stated was how they became life-long readers. 47Dr. Gilda Martinez

48  Last, promoting more programs on television and in other media sources that show successful African-Americans in our society will help to continue to provide the positive role models that students need. 48Dr. Gilda Martinez

49 “Highly motivated by the possibility of becoming the first four-year college student in my immediate family, and the only one within my group of friends to pursue higher education, learning became a passion. I devoted my energy to becoming a scholar, staying late at school to study in the library, participating in activities, and avoiding the neighborhood’s negativity” (Fix, 2006, p. 40). This student is studying political science and broadcast journalism at Florida A & M University. 49Dr. Gilda Martinez

50  Averett, A., & Rodriguez, V. (2003, Spring). New research on families, communities, and student achievement. The Link, 1-2.  Chavkin, N. F. (2000). Family and community involvement: Teachers can lead the way. Clearing House, 73(5), 287-290.  CollegeBoard. (2008). SAT. Retrieved June 11, 2008 from  Epstein, J. L. (2001). School, family, and community involvement. Washington, DC: Lilly Endowment, Inc.  Epstein, J. L., & Sanders, M. G. (2002). Handbook of parenting. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Family, school, and community partnerships (pp. 407-437). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.  Fix, S. (2006). I have risen: Essays by African-American youth. Charlottesville, VA: CAP Charitable Foundation. 50Dr. Gilda Martinez

51  Flick, U. (2002). An introduction to qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.  Handel, R. D. (1999). Building family literacy in an urban community. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.  Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.  Huitt, W. (2004). Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved June 11, 2008 from,  McConnell, S. (2001). Parent involvement and family support: Where do we want to go, and how will we know we are headed there? Journal of Early Intervention, 24(1), 15-18.  Stake, R. E. (2000). Case studies. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Ed.), Handbook of qualitative research, 2 nd Edition (pp. 435-454). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.  Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods, 2 nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd. Dr. Gilda Martinez51

52  Why a case study?  What made it possible?  What were the benefits?  What were the challenges -time, access, etc.?  How did you organize the data?  Challenges in data analysis and write up?  Final products – presentations, articles?  Post-dissertation reflections, etc.? 52Dr. Gilda Martinez

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