Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:The Challenges of Developing Academic Programming by a Latino/a Cultural House
Author(s):Kattah, Maureen
Subject(s):minority retention
Abstract:My research aims to find the answers to three questions: Who is La Casa for? What is the popular understanding of La Casa’s function? and How does that affect the success of a new retention program (I-achieve)? Past research by Ethnography of the University Students has suggested that the popular understanding of La Casa is not about improving personal performance in academic arenas, and that some people might feel excluded by La Casa and the larger Latino/a population on campus (Files, 2006; Garcia, 2006). I also found these mentioned by interviewees in my own research. The I-achieve program, being instituted by a group of new workers, hopes to increase Latino/a students’ social networks on campus and off, and to bring about self-improvement through goal setting and assessment workshops. This program, however, has had limited response, especially in the light of the approximately 2,000 Latino/a students enrolled at the U of I. I intend to investigate why this is the case through participant observation, interviewing, and surveying, testing my hypotheses along the way.
Issue Date:2008-02-13
Course / Semester:ANTH 411: Methods for Sociocultural Anthropology, Prof. Nancy Abelmann. This course introduced students to a variety of ethnographic methods. Students tried their hand at some of these methods through a focused project. I had students think about their semester-long work as "pilot research"; although they did write up a short paper on their findings (their "discuss" section of the database), the culminating assignment was a research proposal in which they envision building on their preliminary findings in a longer/larger project. In the beginning of the semester, students did some warm-up exercises not directly related to their projects (an observation, an analysis of a university document, and an interview) -- some students elected to remove these from their databases while others left them in because of their connection to the final project. Students' "question" and "plan" sections of the database include multiple entries as I encouraged them to continue to refine these over the course of the semester in dialogue with their own emerging findings. I also asked students to search both the U of I Student Life and Cultures Archives and well as this EUI IDEALS collection to find archives relevant to their pilot/proposed research. All students were asked to "reflect" on the research experience and to make "recommendations" to the University on the basis of their research findings. The course syllabus is available at:
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-02-13

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Student Communities and Culture
    The university offers an extraordinary opportunity to study and document student communities, life, and culture. This collection includes research on the activities, clubs, and durable social networks that comprise sometimes the greater portion of the university experience for students.
  • Diversity on Campus/Equity and Access
    This collection examines ways in which the U.S. university and the American college experience are affected by diversity, and difference. In particular, these student projects examine experiences of diversity on campus, including important contemporary social, cultural, and political debates on equity and access to university resources.

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