U.S. university and college settings reflect culture-specific ideas about the “right” way to be a student; specifically, they reward soft independence, such as self-expression and self-motivation. For students who are also guided by norms and practices of interdependence, such as low-income, first-generation students of color, these institutional expectations likely mismatch or render invisible their cultural values. This mismatch is especially evident during the transition to college.
During this briefing, the presenter will examine how privileging soft independence ignores the familial commitments of low-income, first-generation students of color and the assets they bring. Consequently, this undermines student well-being and performance. We discuss how such cultural mismatches manifested before the COVID-19 pandemic and explore preliminary research on the ways in which shifts to remote learning exacerbated these mismatches. This research documents how low-income, first-generation students of color traverse new territory: as first-generation students stepping onto campus for the first time and, later, as students returning home to learn remotely. The presenter will conclude their discussion by sharing research-based practices that better reflect the values, needs, and strengths of a growing population of students.
- Develop deeper understanding of cultural mismatch theory and of how a cultural mismatch undermines the wellbeing and performance of low-income, first-generation students of color; and
- Share research-based strategies for addressing a cultural mismatch and brainstorm how these can be adapted for a remote learning environment.
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