AERA PresentationClyde H. Lewis, Adjunct Faculty Member/ African Diaspora Program Coordinator presented the results of his dissertation pilot study at the Annual American Education Research Association (AERA) conference in Chicago, IL on April 20, 2015. AERA is the largest and most competitive gathering of education scholars in the field with only about 30% of the nearly 50,000 proposals submitted annually being accepted for presentation. The highly competitive conference asks experts from the field to review submitted proposals in order to ensure they fit the annual theme and that they maintain academic rigor.

The presentation, The Big Reveal: How Generational Status Influences Educational Experience examined the experiences of first generation students as they progressed to and through their doctoral studies. This study examined how first generation students were able to navigate the often exclusive system of American education, which is typically reserved for a small portion of the population. The study found three themes as significant for first generation student success: parental expectation, community involvement, and educational journey. The theme of Parental Expectation found that while participants’ parents may not have understood the value or process of higher education, they did not stop the participants from pursing higher education. This finding could play a role in the ways education leaders from all levels, reach out to, and involve parents in education. The second theme, Community Involvement provides an important consideration for educational leaders as they develop programs aimed at educating community members.  Finally, Education Journey provided an interesting position, as it suggested that both positive and negative experiences propelled participants to continue pushing through education.

Overall the involvement of both presenting and attending other presentations allowed for a greater understanding of the breadth of current approaches to improving education at all levels.

Article by Clyde Lewis | Photo by Angela Meeker