Angela Bermudez, Alan Stoskopf, Lawrence Finnerty
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Department or Academic Unit
College of Professional Studies, Department of Education
education, school counseling, college access, college knowledge, cultural wealth, diverse families, parent involvement, underrepresented students
This qualitative study was an investigation into improving college access through family engagement with minority and low-income students in an urban school district. Critical theory concepts of cultural capital, field, and habitus, as well as organizational communication theory, formed the theoretical framework that guided a literature review and shaped the empirical investigation. The study was guided by four research questions: 1) What are the aspirations, views, and beliefs of New Bedford Public Schools' families concerning college attendance? 2) What college-related information and practices are viewed as helpful and not helpful by family members? 3) What communication strategies do these families find most and least effective? 4) What information do schools in New Bedford convey to families about college access and how is it delivered? A case study approach was used to uncover how family members of underrepresented students experience college access programming in this urban district's particular socioeconomic context. It explored their impressions and insights during the design and implementation stages of a college access workshop series. The purpose of this study was to utilize the insights gained to acknowledge the "cultural wealth" as well as improve the college access or "cultural capital" of families of students traditionally underrepresented on college campuses. Findings demonstrated that these families do value education; they want their children to have a college education and view it as a road to a `better future.' They turn to schools to provide vital and timely information to fulfill the aspirations and dreams they hold for their children. The outcome of the study is intended to inform the development of a college access protocol designed to address the informational needs of this community's families, through effective staff professional development, programming and communication. The findings suggest that by understanding families, who they are, and what they value, schools can build effective communication and informational pathways that meet families where they are. Once this occurs parents will feel valued and empowered to collaborate with schools in delivering their children onto college campuses.
Sue Anne Marks
Marks, Sue Anne, "Building college access with families in New Bedford: a case study" (2011). Education Doctoral Theses. Paper 13. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20002324
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