• “Can’t I be Black and smart?”: Examining the experiences of Black high-achieving college women inside and outside the classroom

      Davis, James Earl, 1960-; Jordan, Will J.; Schifter, Catherine; Fries-Britt, Sharon (Temple University. Libraries, 2017)
      This study examines the experiences of high-achieving talented undergraduate Black women inside and outside the classroom at a predominantly white urban university. Much of the higher education research studies how college affects students and how they develop psychosocially during their undergraduate experience. Using a series of semi-structured qualitative interviews with undergraduate honors students, this study examines how Black women make meaning around their experiences in their social and academic lives at college. Intersectionality is used as a theoretical framework to analyze participants’ experiences and to consider the salience of their intersecting racial, gender, and academic identities. Results indicated that inside the classroom participants were spotlighted and felt they were the representatives for their identity groups. In campus life, they were isolated and faced microaggressions from peers. Participants described their intersectional race x gender x academic identity as most salient in their experiences at college. Implications discuss strategies for creating more inclusive academic and social environments and future research for high-achieving undergraduate Black women.
    • From Habits of Mind to Critical Thinking: A Study of Student Learning Behaviors in a University Great Books General Education Course

      Caldwell, Corrinne A.; Davis, James Earl, 1960-; Schifter, Catherine; Smith, Michael W. (Michael William), 1954-; Laufgraben, Jodi Levine, 1966- (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)
      Accreditors and administrators have begun to focus on general education with an eye to improvement. One of the most valued, but difficult to assess, learning outcomes in general education is critical thinking. Critical thinking is thought to play a role in student engagement and positive student learning outcomes. This study examined students' acquisition of critical thinking skills in a required general education great books course at a large, mid-Atlantic, Research I university with a high transfer-in population. Student interviews, class observations and document analysis were employed in the study. Specific attention was paid to dialogic learning, as Vygotsky's theory of social learning and the theory of student engagement underpinned the study. This study found that critical thinking learning goals were not communicated to the students explicitly through the syllabus. Only 20 percent of the students in the class reported acquiring critical thinking skills. All of those students were female transfer students. Many students described the class as outside their primary educational interests. Those who acquired critical thinking skills were more likely to be active participants in the class, value professor-student conferences and have a strong academic support network. Social interaction contributed to students' acquisition of critical thinking skills in this class. Future assessment of critical thinking will depend on a clearer definition of the concept. General education programs and courses that link social interaction and the acquisition of critical thinking skills are worthy of further study.