Positive and Negative Predictors of Educational Attainment

Once aspect of my work analyzes the positive and negative predictors of educational attainment, especially considering racial/ethnic and income inequality.

Racial Differences in College-Going Behaviors
One study (2018, Sociological Perspectives) explores racial differences in college-going behaviors. According to the influential “oppositional culture” account, we should expect black students as a group to be less likely to engage in school than their white counterparts because they are more likely to believe and act in opposition to academics. In contrast to this prediction, qualitative and quantitative researchers have almost uniformly deduced that black students hold similar or higher educational values, attitudes, and expectations as compared to whites. I pull from the rich literature on racial differences in educational attitudes and expectations to posit that instead of black students shirking education, black students are actually more likely to act in favor of education, and that this might help explain their higher net rates of college attendance as indicated in prior research. Using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), I find that black students’ higher rates of engagement in college-going behaviors mediate the relationship between race and college attendance so that race is no longer a significant predictor of attendance.

Other Duties as Assigned: The Ambiguous Role of the High School Counselor
Drawing on my dissertation of inequality and the school counseling profession, this study (revise and resubmit, Sociology of Education) addresses the concern of underperforming school counselors by viewing their place in schools through an organizational lens. Through interviews and observations of high school counselors, administrators, and counselor educators in an urban Midwestern community, I find that the high school counselors in this study suffered from role ambiguity and role conflict due to lack of a clear job description, overlap with similar professions, supervision by administrators with no training on school counselors, mismatched forms of performance evaluation, and conflict between their roles as counselors and educators. Counselors experienced poor boundaries in their work, receiving an overwhelming amount of non-counseling duties that reduced their time with students. Through these non-counseling tasks, school administrators underutilized the specialized education the counselors received, and counselors questioned why they had spent so much time on an education they rarely used.

The Long Arm of Early Exclusionary School Discipline? Education and Criminal Outcomes
Another paper I am writing with a colleague (under review, Social Science Research) uses propensity score matching and sibling fixed-effects models to determine how detrimental suspension and expulsion are for students, especially black students who are overrepresented in these exclusionary discipline actions. These actions serve as triggering events in the life course that increase the probability of negative events such as high school dropout, divergence to a GED, and engagement in criminal conviction.

Racial and Ethnic Self-Identification of Multiracial Individuals

Additional research I am conducting is situated on racial and ethnic self-identification of multiracial individuals.

Self- And Group Racial/Ethnic Identification among Emerging Adults
In the first article in an upcoming interdisciplinary issue of Emerging Adulthood, I use qualitative and quantitative survey data I collected from Hispanic and Asian college students to explore the complexities of racial and ethnic self- and group-identification in emerging adults. With this data, I argue that racial formation is at the intersection of two processes – identity and belonging. Emerging adults’ appearance as well as experiences with in-group and out-group family, friends, and others influences both racial/ethnic self-identification, and racial/ethnic group belonging. When allowed to differentiate between the race that one most identifies with and the racial group one most feels a part of, respondents’ choices do not always align along a single racial or ethnic identity spectrum. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is particularly true for multiracial/ethnic individuals who are connected to two or more racial or ethnic groups through blood or adoption. However, these results are not limited to multiracial/ethnic individuals, highlighting how racial and ethnic identification is complex even for those with only one racial or ethnic heritage

Making Multiracials: Group Identity Formation among Multiracial Americans
In the second article with a colleague (in preparation for submission), we look at the perceptions of racial identification of those with multiracial/ethnic backgrounds. This study explores the complex multidimensionality of racial and ethnic identity, especially among multiracial individuals.