Investigating College Access and Choice for Rural Black Students Using an Anti-Deficit Achievement Framework
Darris Means

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Georgia

Primary Discipline

The current research on rural Black students has identified and characterized college access and choice challenges experienced by this population of students but less attention has been paid to understanding the critical factors and mechanisms used by rural Black students to navigate their pathways to higher education despite challenges. In this qualitative study, I propose using an anti-deficit achievement approach and community cultural wealth (Harper, 2012; Yosso, 2005) to study the knowledge, skills, abilities, and social networks of rural Black students and how they use these assets to inform their pathways to higher education, while examining how systemic and structural inequities shape their college-going experiences.I will employ an exploratory case study approach to examine college access and choice for 20 rural Black high school students in their senior year. I will collect data via three interviews and a photo-elicitation project with each student participant over an academic year. Results have the potential to have a school-level influence on how educators and school counselors work with rural Black students to support their access to higher education, and, on a state and federal level, shape college-going curriculum and college access policies that are inclusive of and enhance the educational outcomes of rural Black students.
About Darris Means
Darris R. Means is an Assistant Professor of College Student Affairs Administration in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services at the University of Georgia. His research focuses on diversity and equity in secondary and higher education contexts. Specifically, he examines how geographical locale, policies, and other mechanisms support and/or hinder college access and choice for minoritized youth, including rural students of Color and Black and Latinx students. Additionally, he examines the collegiate learning and development experiences of Black and Latinx college students; low-income, first-generation college students; and Black gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer students. Dr. Means has also used youth participatory action research methods to collaborate with minoritized youth on research related to college access. His recent publications have appeared in The Review of Higher Education, Journal of College Student Development, and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Dr. Means earned his Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis with a concentration in Higher Education from North Carolina State University, a M.Ed. in Counselor Education with a concentration in Student Affairs from Clemson University, and a B.A. in Sociology and Political Science from Elon University.

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