Daily Lessons: Teacher-Student Interactions and the Development of Educational Trajectories
Shani Evans

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Most students aspire to complete a college degree, regardless of their social class background or race. However, students from low-income families are less likely to graduate from college compared to their peers from higher earning families. Research shows that resources available in a high school affect the likelihood that its students will enroll in a 4-year institution. However, few studies have considered how students? everyday interactions with teachers might shape their educational trajectories. The questions motivating my dissertation are: How do teachers communicate with students about their postsecondary options? What role do interactions with teachers play in shaping students? educational trajectories? To examine these questions, I am conducting an ethnographic study in two selective-admission public high schools. The two schools are similar in many respects. They both serve high achieving students who are primarily black and low-income. However, the schools vary in their post secondary outcomes. Eighty percent of one school?s graduates enroll in a four-year college immediately after graduating, compared to fifty-five percent in the second school. Moreover, only the first school has a history of sending some graduates to highly selective colleges. I conceptualize the knowledge, skills, and expectations that facilitate matriculation in a selective college as a form of cultural capital. I propose that cultural capital can be produced in the day-to-day interactions of high school students. The degree to which adults in different educational settings can, and will, share cultural capital with their students is important for understanding processes of social reproduction and college choice.
About Shani Evans

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