You are here: Home Projects Case Studies Los Angeles
Personal tools

Los Angeles


The community college case studies focus on the experiences of low-income students as they navigate educational pathways within community colleges in the Los Angeles area.

This set of case studies addresses many questions that are relevant to policy makers, college leaders and faculties, K-12 personnel, and others who help students prepare for and succeed in post-secondary programs:  How do students define success and failure in college? What barriers and supports do they experience?  And, how do students interpret information provided by colleges while making important decisions, such as applying for financial aid or deciding which courses are needed to transfer to a 4-year institution, that impact their educational success?

Researchers will observe and interview students and key faculty / administrators to understand how students interpret and construct meaning of their college programs and progress toward degree/certificate completion.  Participants are observed as they engage in several different degree/certificate pathways at three different campuses in the Los Angeles area.  These pathways include basic skills/developmental education, career and technical education, and “transfer tracks” to 4-year universities. Student participants reflect the diversity of the Los Angeles community college population, including first generation students from many different racial/ethnic backgrounds as well as undocumented immigrant students.

The study consists of four phases of data collection over a 2-year period (Spring 2010 – Spring 2012).  In the first phase, researchers will gain general knowledge about college programs and students’ educational pathways. During the second and third phase, 100 students will be interviewed about their experiences inside and outside of school and their interpretations of these experiences.  In the final phase, informal discussions will occur with a sub-set of students in order to look more deeply into how students understand their daily college activities in relation to their broader educational and life goals.

The Los Angeles case studies will reveal how students understand and navigate their educational pathways within community colleges.  This will be useful information for those who design options for- and provide advice to low-income students. The phenomenological insight gained on students’ decision-making is a perspective that is rarely seen in community college research.  By attending to meaning- and decision making, the case studies can offer insights to college agents (teachers, counselors, youth workers) and institutions (programs, support services, etc.) that go beyond the narrow data metrics of persistence and completion outcomes.


Maritza Del Razo, Administrative Analyst, UC/ACCORD
Maria Malagon, Graduate Student Researcher, UC/ACCORD
Lindsay Perez-Huber, Postdoctoral Scholar, UC/ACCORD
Mike Rose, Professor, Department of Education & Information Studies, UCLA
Yen Ling Shek, Graduate Student Researcher, UC/ACCORD
Daniel Solorzano, Director of UC/ACCORD, Professor, Department of Education &
Information Studies, UCLA
Veronica Velez, Graduate Student Researcher, UC/ACCORD
Tara Watford, Director of Research, UC/ACCORD

Recent Publications

Policy Report: October 2013 | No. 12

Inside the Basic Skills Classroom: Student Experiences in Developmental Education

Maria C. Malagon, Lluliana Alonso, Robin Nichole Johnson-Ahorlu, and Yen Ling Shek


Policy Report: September 2013 | No. 10

Latina/o Community College Students: Understanding the Barriers of Developmental Education

Daniel G. Solórzano, Nancy Acevedo-Gil, and Ryan E. Santos

Document Actions