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Pursuing Deep Equity in “Blended” Classrooms: Exploring the In-Person Teacher Role in Supporting Low-Income Youth Through Computer-Based Learning


by Mica Pollock, Susan Yonezawa, Hilary Gay & Lilia Rodriguez - 2019

Background/Context: Efforts to increase low-income, underrepresented students’ access to coursework increasingly tap computer-based course materials. Yet as we turn increasingly to computers for instruction, what might the in-person teacher still be needed to do? This paper presents seven in-person “teacher roles” that precollege low-income youth and their teachers deemed necessary for supporting students as they used computer-based materials. Data were collected across two years in 19 summer school classrooms where 400 high school students took computer-based college-preparatory courses supported in person by teachers and teachers’ assistants (TAs). We offer an empirically informed conceptual framework supporting next research on (and innovation of) equity-minded “blended” classroom practice. We define “equity” effort as active effort to meet the needs of each student and all groups of students; here, the effort was to sufficiently prepare each and all students for college.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: We used focus groups, classroom observations, and interviews to study the roles that teachers embraced and students valued. We asked two research questions: (1) How do in-class teachers (teachers and TAs) support students as students access material online? (2) According to student and adult participants, which teacher supports are key to student success in the courses?

Research Design: Researchers observed classrooms to capture patterns of frequently repeated adult-student and peer interaction. Through informal and semistructured ethnographic interviews and focus groups, we invited participants to comment on needed supports for classrooms and on the supports they saw as particularly valuable (or not). We conducted approximately 46 hours of interviews and focus groups and 500 hours of observation.

Conclusions/Recommendations: We describe three in-person teacher roles that participants said assisted students in achieving basic equity with computer materials—that is, precollege content access and course credit otherwise denied. We explore four in-person teacher roles that participants called particularly necessary for deep equity—to support students’ individual and collective comprehension of the online materials, often through dialogue. We conclude that the teacher’s overarching role for achieving equity in these blended classrooms was to continually adjust pedagogy as needed to ensure each and all students both accessed and understood the precollege content. This suggests that adding technology to classrooms to support all students fundamentally requires teachers.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 5, 2019, p. 1-40
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22628, Date Accessed: 11/14/2019 5:55:33 AM

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About the Author
  • Mica Pollock
    University of California, San Diego
    E-mail Author
    MICA POLLOCK is professor of education studies and director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at the University of California, San Diego. An anthropologist, she focuses on issues of racial equity in U.S. education. Pollock’s work explores how people in diverse education communities communicate and collaborate, and how they might do so more effectively to support every young person’s full human talent development. In addition to Colormute, Because of Race, Everyday Antiracism (edited), and Companion to the Anthropology of Education (coedited), her most recent book is Schooltalk: Rethinking What We Say About—and To—Students Every Day.
  • Susan Yonezawa
    University of California, San Diego
    SUSAN YONEZAWA is a project research scientist and associate director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at the University of California, San Diego. She has published on educational equity and school reform efforts in the areas of student voice, school culture, and tracking and detracking. Throughout her work, she has focused on increasing opportunities for students to pursue and complete K–16 pathways to college and career, most especially for low-income, first-generation college-going, and underserved students in general. Her most recent work, “Student Voices and the Common Core,” can be found in the NSSE Yearbook, "Student Voice in American Educational Policy," edited by J. Connor.
  • Hilary Gay
    University of California, San Diego
    E-mail Author
    HILARY GAY holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s degree in French from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include the sociology of education, the sociology of mental illness, and foreign language pedagogy.
  • Lilia Rodriguez
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    LILIA RODRIGUEZ is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, in the division of Urban Schooling. Her work explores the importance of play and imagination for immigrant children in urban schools. Her most recent publication is a collaboration with colleagues entitled Learning to See: Fieldnotes as Pedagogy for Preservice Teachers Working With Youth in an After-School Program.
 
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