Dissertation

The first-year experience as counterspace: a qualitative analysis of writing portfolios by underprepared students of color

The purpose of this study sought to understand the past histories and first-year college experiences of historically underrepresented, underprepared first-year college students of color who required remedial coursework in their first year of college. The orientation of this study combines Critical Race Theory (CRT), which puts “race at the center of critical analysis” (Roithmayr, 1999, p. 1) and Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit), which incorporates the multidimensionality of Latinx identities by adding language and immigration status among other important issues related to race and racism (Solórzano & Bernal, 2001). Within this framework, this study applied Hernandez’ (2016) Critical Race Theory reconceptualization of self-authorship as a tool of analysis to understand the experiences of underprepared college students of color who may also be first-generation students, positioning race at the center of students’ experiences within the system of higher education. Overall, the self authorship of historically underrepresented, underprepared first-year college students of color who required remedial coursework in their first year of college demonstrated how a first-year experience program—particularly a residential program—and first year experience curriculum function as both a place and space for underprepared students of color to develop cognitively, intrapersonally, and interpersonally during their first year of college.

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