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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2012 > Doctoral Students Present Qualitative Research at EDTHP Poster Session

Doctoral Students Present Qualitative Research at EDTHP Poster Session

Grad students in Penn State’s Educational Theory and Policy program presented their pilot studies during a recent poster session.

by Joe Savrock (January 2012)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Teams of graduate students in Penn State’s Educational Theory and Policy (EDTHP) program presented the results of their pilot studies during a poster session held December 7 in Rackley Building.

The event was part of the coursework of the program’s Qualitative Methods I course, co-taught by Gerald LeTendre, head of the Education Policy Studies department, and Mindy Kornhaber, associate professor of educational theory and policy. The posters addressed a variety of topics related to the theme How Does Equity Play out at Penn State?

In their work, the students approached equity from varying scopes. Among the topics were the experiences of international students as well as students at commonwealth campuses, utilization of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, and narratives of women in leadership positions around the University.

The session proved to be quite successful, drawing a large number of faculty, staff, and students to the large third-floor classroom in Rackley Building.

“The intensive work with, and by, students is a vital part of learning at Penn State,” noted Kornhaber.

The concept of holding EDTHP poster sessions was originated by Kornhaber and Dorothy Evensen, professor of higher education, when they co-taught the Qualitative Methods I course in the fall 2006 semester. In line with their scholarly interests in assessment policy and learning, Kornhaber noted that she and Evensen envisioned that poster presentations would be an "authentic assessment" of student knowledge.

“Authentic assessments attempt to mirror the sorts of performances and work that take place in a given field—in this case, educational research,” explained Kornhaber. “The class poster session is the kind of work that researchers actually do at scholarly conferences.”

“We were tasked with investigating how equity plays out at Penn State by conducting qualitative research,” said Nnenna Ogbu, a Ph.D. candidate in the program.

Ogbu and her co-authors, Kristina Brezicha and Emil Cunningham, presented a poster titled “We Are …….” “We examined equity for first-year graduate and undergraduate students by exploring the concept of ‘We Are’ in the ‘We Are Penn State’ slogan,” said Ogbu. “In our research, we discovered different paths for undergraduate and graduate students as they familiarize themselves with the Penn State community.”

Another poster, presented by Susan Voigt, Lindsey Schrott, and Emily Hodge, examined the experiences of undergraduate students who had changed their campus to University Park from one of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses.

“We found that students tended to report that their GPAs dropped after changing campuses,” said Schrott. The team identified potential ways to reduce the GPA drop—for example, expansion of change-of-campus orientation programs and encouraging Commonwealth Campuses to create transition programs. The researchers also found a perception among students that faculty at University Park were less accessible than faculty at other campuses.

Following is a complete list of the poster topics and authors:

* Equity Amongst Commonwealth Campuses
Susan Voigt, Lindsey Schrott, and Emily Hodge

* Self-Identification (Definition) of Equity vis-à-vis Professional Role and Personal Identity
Connie Filesteel, Amanda Knerr, Hilario Lomeli, and Karla Loya-Suarez

* Penn State as a “Global University”
Carlos Perez, Seung-wan Nam, and Ya-chi Hung

* We Are …….
Kristina Brezicha, Emil Cunningham, and Nnenna Ogbu

* Women and Leadership
Michael Flaherty, Steven Nelson, Jared Rodrigues, and Angela Rothrock

* International Students
Adrienne Henck, Sarah Hoffman, Haram Jeon, Gulab Khan, and Hyungkee Kim


Christine Crain, Kelly Griffith, MJ Kitt, Steve Kotok, and Carolyn Strickland