1 William Molnar

. Post again the descriptions of your two potential dissertation research topics. (You can repeat the descriptions from last week or post new versions if you have thought of better topics.) To reiterate my descriptions of my two potential dissertation research topics, they are as follows:

1)Poverty: A quntitative analysis on its effects on school-readiness skills in children of high-poverty public schools. 2) Poverty effects the student achievement of children ages 5-10

2. Just as other researchers have biases, so do we all. For each of the two dissertation topics you are considering, list your pre-existent biases. Why did you pick these topics and not some other topic? What issues are most salient to you based on your own experiences? What definitions/assumptions do you bring? My pre-existent biases are based on race and social class. I assume that since my children come from high-poverty families and are minority, they will not be able to be taught in school. These biases exist for both my dissertation research topics. O’Connor and Fernandez (2006) stated that we evaluate the results of children based on white children as the “unmarked norm against which the development of ‘other’children is evaluated” (p 6). As a result, we see the culture and organization of schools with minority children as academically and behaviorally deficient. Baker (2005) believes that education “opens routes to achieve higher incomes, status advancement, and upward social mobility” (p 243). But at times, teachers in the urban districts believe their students develop inferior beliefs and experience academic failures. We don’t believe that they can learn. MacCoun (1998) brings up an important issue that is related to my bias and that is the concept of mental contamination. He defines this as “the process whereby a person has an unwanted judgment, emotion, or behavior because of mental processing that is unconscious or uncontrollable” (p 270). He goes on to state that if a theory about the world becomes learned, it filters our atttention. My theory of the world was learned from my upbringing. Growing up in a high-class society, I never encountered poverty or urban environments. I grew up in a wealthy town in northern New Jersey where the entire town was white European-American. I never met a minority until I attended college in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It was then that I began to make my own conclusions about African-Americans. When I began teaching in an urban district, I thought I was going to make a difference. But when I began to see what the children were bringing with them, I soon realized that teaching actually became

2 William Molnar
secondary. Baker stated that negative images were taught through a hidden curriculum. Even the students that can succeed still have a concern that societal racism will limit their achievement (Mahiri & Hamiri, 1998). In an article about hidden bias, it has been demonstrated that biases remains in most of us. Studies have shown that people can cause themselves to work without prejuduce and yet sill posess hidden negative biases. This article on hidden biases strongly states that “school teachers clearly telegraph prejudices, so much so that some researchers believe children of color and while children in the same clasroom effectively receive different educations”(p 1).

I picked these topics because I want to know why children of poverty have such great difficulty succeeding in school. They lack the motivation to want to learn. They view education as a deterrent in their lives. It always seems to be that the teachers are blames for the poor test scores and low graduation rates. In my district, the graduation rate is 42%. I see children struggling in their academics, especially in reading and it behooves me to understand why. This is why I want to study how poverty effects student achievement.

The issues that are most salient to me based on my own experience are the issues of environment and family life. I believe these two factors play a huge role in the education system in schools serving children of low SES.

The assumptions I bring with me is that if more attention is given to these children and if class sizes are diminished so that these children can receive the attention, they can succeed. Another assumption I bring is that fact that these children will never be able to pass the standardized tests because I believe these tests are biased. These tests are designed for the middle- and upper-class society. There are questions on these exams about topics that children from low SES never experience or understand. So how are they expected to perform well on these tests? I guess this is another bias of mine.

3. Now, for each topic, indicate how you might address these biases in the literature review, design, and/or discussion components of your dissertation

3 William Molnar I would address these biases in the literature review, design, and discussion component by reviewing literature that shows positive results from research done on student achievement on students from low SES. Reference Baker, P.B. (2005). The impact of cultural biases on African-American students’ education: A review of research literature regarding race based schooling. Education and Urban Society, 37(3), 243-256. Mahiri, J. & Hamiri, J. (1998). Shooting for excellence: African-American and youth culture in new century schools. New York, NY: National Council of Teachers of English and Teachers College Press. MacCoun, R.J. (1998). Biases in the interpretation and use of research results. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 259-287. O’Connor, C., & Fernandez, S.D. (2006). Race, class, and disproporitionality: Reevaluating the relationship between poverty and special education placement. Educational Researcher, 35(6), 6-11. www.tolerance.org/hidden_bias/tutorials/02.html.

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