Research and Data Inform our Work

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

“At first semester here, I had like all As and Bs, Second semester, I made the Dean’s list. The third semester, I think I did, and last semester, I think I did too. But this year I was inducted into the honor’s society.” 

Male Gateway student who left high school with a GPA of .80

The focus of research at GtCNN is to amplify student voices and provide additional evidence as programs continue to improve practice. In June 2015, we wrapped up data collection for an ambitious project, Understanding Academic Success. The project examined Gateway data and census data, surveyed students about technology, and interviewed 62 successful students. In addition to the interviews, 20 of these students allowed the research team to shadow them for a full day. We woke up at the crack of dawn to meet students as early as 6:00 am as they traveled to school by car, bus, or family carpool. We went to class, observed as they worked in computer labs, printed assignments, and mentored other students.

These students showed us the incredible dedication they have to their education with long commutes and dedicated study hours on campus, all while managing work, parenting, and their own health issues. This research has provided reams of data that we will be learning from for months and years to come. We now have a clear picture of the type of neighborhoods students live in, how Gateway students access technology (over 95% have devices), and how students succeed in college with the support of Gateway staff, peers, and family as they pursue their aspirations of supporting their families and giving back to their communities.

“My first semester was my best semester. I think it was such a relief to be around people that actually cared. I didn't really mind getting there and waking up at nine because I've been getting up at seven before so I think I had a four point out my first semester. My counselor is probably the best person I've ever met my whole life. Although one day I have one idea of what I want to do with my whole life and then I'll go in another day and change the whole thing, and she’ll be like 'okay' and figure out how we can do that and be supportive of anything anyone wants to do… Yeah and being treated like I was more of an adult” 

- Female student who left high school with a 1.29 GPA, describing starting Gateway to College

In addition to continuing our work with these data in 2016, we will also conduct research on postsecondary enrollment after Gateway. This research will help us better understand student pathways to a meaningful credential, as we examine important components of a supportive learning context, including sense of belonging and social support. We will also be continuing to learn about how the School to Jobs curriculum, from Daphna Oyserman at USC, can benefit Gateway to College students.

“I think it’s [Gateway support that builds success] keeping up with stuff. Which kind of makes us feel like we’re important, and they don’t want us to fail.” 

– Female student who came to Gateway because she didn’t feel safe at her high school.

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