Course Title: Understanding College Access Through Educational Stratification

        Instructor Professor Pat McDonough
       Institution UCLA
Office Number 310.206.2120
E-mail address


Intellectual Objectives

To understand:
- how educational advantage and disadvantage accumulates throughout the educational process and affects equity in college access;

- the links between K-12 and postsecondary stratification;

- different school contexts, i.e. public v. private; and

- the contributions and interactions of families, students, schools, colleges, and the entrepreneurial admissions sector in influencing college access.

Skill Objectives
To build writing, technology, and presentation skills that will be useful in completing an Ed.D. and will contribute to professional development. To introduce and model the inquiry process and demonstrate how educational problems can be analyzed and inquiry can be used to affect change.

Class Discussion The success of this class will be greatly influenced by the level of participation of all class members. Every student must come to each class having thoroughly read every reading and be prepared to discuss at length those readings, their insights, and their implications. Students will be graded on the amount and quality of their discussion participation.

In Class Reflections Periodically, students will be required to complete reflective writing exercises in class.

College Across the Curriculum (CAC) Project Students will work in groups of five, which will be made up of representatives of the K-12 and postsecondary systems. Each group will focus on one of the five CAC areas:

- middle school college awareness days,
- college awareness games,
- math curriculum,
- language arts curriculum, or
- math, science, and music curriculum

Each group must accomplished the following tasks:
- observe CAC being implemented
- write field notes of observations
- interview at least one implementor or conduct a focus group of implementors
- transcribe interview or focus group data
- summarize what worked and why as well as what still needs improvement and why in your CAC component
- write a vignette of how to implement your CAC component for future CAC users
- present your summary analysis to the whole class.

The division of labor for each group task is up to the group. I realize that each of you has professional and personal commitments along with other UCLA doctoral work. However, each of you should realize that all of these tasks and the CAC project as a whole will give you a valuable introduction to the inquiry process and will introduce you to crucial inquiry tasks and build skills that you may well need to complete your culminating projects.

As an individual, every group member must keep a journal on group processes and their particpation in the group. At the end of the project, each group member must write and submit a 2-4 page reflection on their contribution to each part of the group CAC project.

Your reflection should discuss:
- how the group established the division of labor
- what problems the group encountered and how they were resolved
- the group's communication processes, making sure to note how the group brought members "up to speed" who were less active on individual tasks and what action you took to "get up to speed" on tasks you were less active on
- your reflections on the tasks you were intimately engaged in carrying out, noting where and how you would do things differently, both as a group member and as an individual, if you had to do this project again.

Grading scheme:


Thursday, October 2nd
Introduction to Class

Thursday, October 16th
College Access Reading McDonough. (1997.) Choosing Colleges: How Social Class and Schools Structure Opportunity. State University of New York Press.

Thursday, October 30th
The Role of Pre-School & K-6 in College Access Readings
Stanton-Salazar, R. 1997. "A Social Capital Framework for Understanding the Socialization of Racial Minority Children and Youth." Harvard Education Review. 67: 1-39.

Emerson, R., R. Fretz, and L. Shaw. 1995. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Pp. 17-63

Saturday, November 1st
The Role of Middle Schools and Teachers in College Access
Reading Levine, A. 1997. "The Role of the Good Teacher." Lessons From Privilege: The Asmerican Prep School Tradition. Harvard University Press.

Freeman, K. 1997. "Increasing African Americans' Participation in Higher Education." Journal of Higher Education. 68:523-550.

Thursday, November 13th
The Role of High Schools in College Access Readings Lee,V. and Ekstrom, R. 1987. "Student Access to Guidance Counseling in High Schools." American Educational Research Journal, 24: 287-310.

Levine, 1997. "The Power of Personal Attention." Lessons From Privilege. Harvard University Press.

Saturday, November 15th
The Role of Families in College Access Readings Lareau, A. 1987. "Social Class Differences in Family-School Relationships: The Importance of Cultural Capital." Sociology of Education 60: 73-85.

Hoover-Dempsey, K and H. Sandler. 1997. "Why Do Parents Become Involved in Their Children's Education?" Review of Educational Research 67:3-42.

Thursday, December 4th
The Role of the Entrepreneurial Sector in College Access


In our effort to offer a comprehensive listing of syllabi to the Higher Education community, we encourage your contributions to our collection. Submit your syllabi using our submission form, or via e-mail at