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Although students choose their colleges for a variety of reasons, low-income, first-generation, and minority students are often limited in their choices. Furthermore, even when those students do attend college, their persistence rates are generally lower than those of traditional students. This study examines the relationship between factors that influence choice and persistence in recipients of the Longhorn Opportunity Scholarship (LOS), a scholarship given to students from Texas high schools that are under-represented at the University of Texas at Austin (U.T. Austin), the flagship university of the University of Texas System. LOS students are usually low-income, thus, the scholarship offers these students an opportunity to attend a university they otherwise might not be able to attend. Furthermore, the academic and social support offered by U.T. Austin's Longhorn Scholars Program increases the likelihood these students will graduate. In this study, a qualitative methodology called Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA), developed by Norvell Northcutt at U.T. Austin, was used to study the relationship between choice and persistence in LOS recipients. One focus group of LOS freshmen addressed the question of why they chose U.T. Austin, while another focus group of LOS seniors addressed the question of what factors helped them persist. Understanding the relationship between choice and persistence for these students should assist university administrators in understanding what qualities attract talented low-income, first-generation and/or minority students to an institution, and if those same factors or others play a role in their persistence. If the students' pre-matriculation expectations are met by the university and these choice factors are similar to those factors that ensure persistence, then administrators can assume that programs such as the Longhorn Scholars Program are instrumental in the persistence of quality low-income, first-generation, and/or minority students.
My dissertation examines the history of racial integration at The University of Texas beginning in 1950, the year the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the admission of African American Heman Sweatt. This dissertation shows how administrators at The University of Texas, even as they were “desegregating,” always remained conscious of race. These administrators were so conscious of race, in fact, that they noticed race at every turn, in order to insure that there would be integration, but not full integration. While UT administrators remained sensitive to the needs and concerns of latent and blatant white supremacists, they, for the most part, ignored the needs and concerns of African American students. In <italic>Brown v. Board of Education,</italic> the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional because it harmed black children irreparably, psychologically, and spiritually. In this dissertation, several African Americans, in their own words, and in the reiterations of their experiences at UT, suggest that limited integration could be no less harmful—that in fact it hurt those who attended the University emotionally and psychologically. These early black students said that although the University claimed to welcome them, they were treated as unwelcome, undeserving, and unwanted. In retrospect, it is rather amazing that desegregation at the University was relatively peaceful, in the midst of the many insults—both public and private—that black students were forced to endure both on and off campus at the hands of their white classmates and white professors. The experiences with limited integration could be instructive. In recent years, as debates swirl around the desirability of race consciousness and race-based programs, we must wonder whether even limited integration will survive. By showing the continued persistence of white racism at UT, the dissertation explores the ways in which white supremacy may be so deeply imbedded in American culture that it never disappears, but simply changes form.
This study analyzed trends in access and success of students admitted through the Top 10% admissions policy. The study employs an comparative analysis between public universities from the Borderland region and the two top-tier public universities in Texas. This Texas admissions policy provides students in the top 10% of their graduating high school class admission to any state 4-year public university. Therefore, this policy implies that being a top 10% student equates to being college ready for any public university in Texas, regardless of selectivity or top tier status. Research on the Texas Top 10% policy has focused on its success in improving diversity and student performance at the two top-tier public universities in Texas, The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. However, enrollment disparity continues at these elite institutions between Whites, Latina/os and Blacks. Additionally, the Texas Borderland region is an intersection of large Latina/o demographics; distance from top-tier institutions; and great disparities in economic development, health, and education. Combining the aforementioned conditions, we know little about the access and success of Borderland top 10% students, particularly in comparing the two public top tier universities in Texas to the alternative choice of their local Borderland university. This study used mixed methods to compare the trends in access and success of Borderland students admitted under the Top 10% admissions policy at Borderland universities and at top-tier public universities, and additionally controlled for student characteristics in explaining student persistence and graduation. The quantitative analysis used student-level descriptive and inferential statistics with data facilitated by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The qualitative section of this dissertation used focus-group interviews with 36 students at 5 Borderland universities and 1 top-tier university to explain their success. This study applies Bourdieu's theoretical framework of social and cultural capitals and habitus to interpret the findings. Results indicated student differentiation between institutions in access, success, and explanations. Ethnicity, gender, family income, and college generation status influence differences in enrollment between institutions, in which all together influenced differences in graduation and persistence. On the other hand, the interviews revealed that personal effort and institutional resources also explained differences in student success. This study provides implications for further research and policy considerations.
The purpose of this study was to investigate how the University of Phoenix defines and implements a balance of academics and economics in curriculum and operations. The University of Phoenix is organized as a for-profit institution and has the largest enrollment of any university in the United States. Tremendous growth has occurred in large proprietary colleges in recent years. According to the literature, for-profit higher education is an understudied area of which knowledge could be useful. The University of Phoenix has been the most successful of the for-profits in recruiting students and generating revenue. As the growth of for-profit education continues, so does the controversy in academic, governing, and accrediting bodies concerning the legitimacy of for-profit colleges. The common points of contention pointed out by critics include: predominant use of adjunct faculty, acceptance of work experience for credit, lack of library resources, high relative tuition, management of financial aid, recruiting techniques, use of distance-learning methods, study groups, and the profit motive. Central to the controversy is a philosophical debate concerning the business orientation versus the virtues of education. Qualitative research methods were used to collect data. The primary source of data came from twenty-one semi-structured interviews with University of Phoenix stakeholders. Another significant source of data was documentation related to the history and operation of the University. Three major themes were found in the research: (1) a desire to accrue value to the consumer, primarily students and their employers, termed Consumer Stakeholder Value; (2) a desire to improve business value which is referred to as Business Stakeholder Value; and (3) an acknowledged tension that exists between the extremes found in the values of academics and economics, referred to as The Tension. Throughout this research, a sense of complimentary opposites influenced the researcher to develop a theoretical model of how the University of Phoenix defines balance. This was done using the Tai Chi symbol representing Yin and Yang.
Purpose. This study examined the factors contributing to the variation in extracurricular participation eligibility rates among Texas high schools in the University Interscholastic League under the No Pass/No Play law. The program factors examined by this study include extracurricular program type, tutorial program type, and grade monitoring program type. The demographic factors include schools size, student-body socioeconomic status, and student-body ethnicity. The extracurricular programs examined by this study include football, volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball, and band. Methods. One hundred fifty high school principals in Texas completed and returned a No Pass/No Play Principal Questionnaire. The questionnaire obtained information regarding the ineligibility rates of the extracurricular programs examined by this study. Demographic data was retrieved from the Texas Education Agency website. The data analysis was conducted using Statistical Package for Social Studies (SPSS) for Windows Version 11.0. Findings. Research Question One examined the relationship between eligibility rates and three demographic factors: school size, student-body ethnicity, and student-body socioeconomic status. The results of the statistical analysis suggest larger schools and schools with a high percentage of minority students tend to have lower eligibility rates than smaller schools and schools with a low percentage of minority students. The socioeconomic status of the student body, the percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, does not seem to affect eligibility rates, however. Research Question 2 sought to discover what program factors, tutorial program type and grade monitoring program type, increase eligibility rates. Furthermore, Research Question Two examined the effects of these program factors on eligibility rates of schools serving students from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Surprisingly, the program factors do not appear to have an effect on the rates of student eligibility. Despite what type of tutorial program or what type of grade monitoring program schools employ, the eligibility rates tend to not be affected. This tendency remains constant despite the ethnicity or socioeconomic status of the student body served by the schools. Research Question Three reexamined the same program factors as Research Question Two; however, this research question sought to determine if tutorial program type or grade monitoring program type affect eligibility rates differently in schools of different sizes. Again, neither tutorial program type nor grade monitoring program type seems to affect eligibility rates. There is no relationship between the eligibility rates of schools within different UIL classifications and tutorial program type or grade monitoring program type. In other words, tutorial program type and grade monitoring program type do not affect eligibility rates despite the size of the school. The final research question examined the eligibility rates of the five extracurricular activities in the study: football, volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball, and band. The question was asked to determine which programs have the highest eligibility rates. The data suggest the eligibility rates of the different extracurricular programs are different. The data suggest a gender division in terms of eligibility rates. The activities including only female students, volleyball and girls basketball, proved to have the highest rate of student eligibility. On the contrary, the activities including only male students had much lower rates of student eligibility. The one mixed-gender activity, band, proved to have a low average eligibility rate, similar to the all male activities.
Previous research has examined the influence of social support and family support on Latino college adjustment; however, few studies have examined the role of peer support on Latino college adjustment, and even fewer studies have focused exclusively on Mexican-origin students. The purpose of this study was to explore the importance of perceived peer support to Mexican-origin college students adjusting to a predominantly White university, with special attention given to the role of perceived peer support in the context of minority status stress and traditional college stress. Specifically, this study aimed to find whether perceived peer support contributed to Mexican-origin students' college adjustment. Given that many minority students attending a predominantly White university experience minority status stress and traditional college stress, this study also assessed the extent to which perceived peer support buffered Mexican-origin students from these stressors. A second goal of this study was to examine the heterogeneity of the Mexican-origin college student population to determine whether acculturation status influenced the relation between perceived peer support and several variables including minority status stress, traditional college stress, and college adjustment. Mexican-origin (N = 136) students were recruited from the Center of Mexican American Studies, the Latino Leadership Council, and the Educational Psychology subject pool at The University of Texas at Austin. Participants completed an online survey that included a demographic form and five questionnaires that assessed traditional college stress, minority status stress, acculturation, perceived peer support, and college adjustment. Several important findings were identified. Perceived peer support was associated with increased levels of traditional college stress, social adjustment, and attachment to the university. Traditional college stress, specifically the academic stress and social stress subscales, negatively predicted overall college adjustment. Of the five minority status stress subscales, achievement stress and interracial stress negatively predicted college adjustment while social climate stress positively predicted college adjustment. Finally, acculturation status negatively predicted all five types of minority status stress. Contrary to what was predicted, none of the interaction terms were significant, indicating that neither perceived peer support nor acculturation status moderated the effects of stress on adjustment. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
This dissertation examines the impacts of shifting federal and state regulation on localities and on their efforts to extend public access to new technologies by exploring how libraries, diverse community sites and commercial hotspots have configured their services and programs in Austin, Texas in the last decade. Historically, regulation to ensure public access to communication and information systems have been regarded in the United States as an expression of government's concerns about preserving the public interest in the media. Since the early 1990s, diverse policy initiatives promoting public access to information and communication technology (ICT) sought to fulfill ideals of equity and democracy in the information age. However, an increasing preponderance of neoliberal ideology in current policy discourses, coupled with the explosive growth of high-speed, mobile networks, and individual-based, social software applications are challenging traditional notions of public access in communication policy. Since 2002, federal and state governments have ended a decade of direct government support to local, non-profit and community-based programs that facilitated public access to ICT. Over the same period, they have increasingly pursued a market-oriented approach to broadband access through the unlicensed spectrum, encouraging private enterprises to provider Wi-Fi and wireless services to consumers in restaurants, airports, and other public places. Such changes bear significant implications for issues of governance, participatory democracy and equity in the information age. The comparative case study of Internet access initiatives in Austin seeks to answer three interrelated questions. First, how has public policy facilitating the transition toward convergent media environments framed public access to information and communication technologies (ICT)? A framing analysis of federal, state and local regulation of public ICT access indicates increasing fragmentation of policy discourses on access. Second, what are the main characteristics of the field of public access to ICT in an American technopolis? Austin, a modern American Technopolis and pioneer of Internet access in the country serves as a site to assess the impact of fragmented regulation on public ICT access. Third, how has public access to new technology through the unlicensed spectrum been conceptualized by different access cultures in a shifting regulatory environment? A survey of Wi-Fi hotspots in Austin, interviews with stakeholders and secondary data are employed in analyzing how non-profits, private firms and the local government are configuring high-speed Internet access through the unlicensed spectrum.