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Friday, October 6 • 3:15pm - 3:45pm
Implementing a Digital College Access Initiative: Four Profiles of Engagement

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Low-income youth who are high academic achievers throughout high school are still at significant risk of not applying to college (Arbona & Nora, 2007). Many of these students also run the risk of under-matching, or not applying to the academically rigorous institutions they are qualified for (Roderick, Coca, & Nagaoka, 2011). In the absence of adequate funding for college guidance counselors in low-income school communities, what affordable alternatives offer students the support they need to apply, get accepted to, and persist in college? Do digital platforms and games have the potential to supplement the guidance provided by counselors and teachers? How can digital initiatives best be implemented at the school level? 

Two years ago, our team at the University of [removed for blind review] implemented a digital college access initiative in high schools across California to improve college and financial aid outcomes. The intervention involved a role-playing video game and an online competition where students earned points by playing the game, reading articles about college, and engaging in other activities meant to increase their college knowledge. In this spotlight presentation, we offer a deep dive into how implementation progressed at four diverse case study sites. We will highlight the diverse ways that teachers, counselors and administrators facilitated student engagement with the digital tools including how they surmounted barriers to technology access. We will also review mixed methods data on student outcomes. Our goal is to make recommendations for researchers, designers, and educators who want to undertake similar types of digital interventions, as well as to offer insights about bringing digital school-wide initiatives to scale. 

Arbona, C., & Nora, A. (2007). The influence of academic and environmental factors on Hispanic college degree attainment. The Review of Higher Education, 30(3), 247-269.

Roderick, M., Coca, V., & Nagaoka, J. (2011). Potholes on the road to college: High school effects in shaping urban students’ participation in college application, four-year college enrollment, and college match. Sociology of Education, 84(3), 178-211.

Friday October 6, 2017 3:15pm - 3:45pm PDT
Emerald Bay A