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Harvard EdCast: Supporting the New Majority Student

By Matt Weber on February 21, 2017 8:00 AM

Ross coverIn her years as president of Heritage University in Washington State, Sr. Kathleen Ross noticed an emerging trend. The number of students matriculating whose parents did not have college degrees was growing to the point of outnumbering the students whose parents had finished degrees. But then she observed something else about this "new majority" — they weren't succeeding in their studies at quite the same rate.

"While it's wonderful that there are all these new majority students coming to university," says Ross, "[but] the fact of the matter is that ... the percentage of those students earning degrees is much lower than people coming from continuing generation families."

What was going on? What about these students' approach to their studies was different, and why?

In order to get to the root of the issue, Ross recruited student researchers to join her in exploring these questions and more, beginning with, simply, What does work? Her research, which has evolved into Harvard Education Press title, Breakthrough Strategies: Classroom-Based Practices to Support New Majority College Students, draws upon information from both the students themselves and the faculty who have worked with them.

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Ross, now president emerita at Heritage, identifies the most effective strategies that faculty have used to lead "new majority" students to college success and suggests how others may be able to implement them with their own students.

About the Harvard EdCast EdCast RSS FeediTunes one-click subscription

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber and co-produced by Jill Anderson, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.