Countering oppression : examining Metro's model of social justice education

This embedded mixed-method case study focused on the academic and social outcomes of participants in the Metro Academy program. A fairly new program at San Francisco State University, Metro focuses on increasing the retention and persistence rates for first-generation college-going students of color, while at the same time empowering them to become social critics and agents of change. Metro Academy is a redesign of the critical first two years of college, when students at public institutions are most likely to drop out. The linked courses, a unique core component of the program, are intentionally infused with social justice perspectives and real-world topics, and they employ a critical pedagogy approach. The quantitative findings revealed that Metro students were more likely to persist and be in good standing than their matched comparison group and all first-time freshmen at the University. The primary phase of this study, the qualitative findings, indicated that Metro’s social justice model of education provided the pedagogical space for students to build and cultivate the knowledge, skills, and tools to challenge and counter oppression they may encounter in their lives. Three major themes emerged from the qualitative data with respect to Metro’s model and application: (a) Socially Responsive Education; (b) Metro’s Learning Community; and (c) Connecting to Community. By illuminating the students’ voices and perspectives, this study provides an in-depth analysis and suggests promising practices that institutions can utilize to better serve the needs historically marginalized students.