Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Urban Education

Advisor

Kenneth Tobin

Committee Members

David Forbes

Eduardo Vianna

Subject Categories

Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Keywords

emotions, mindfulness, health, agency, transformation, marginalization, education

Abstract

In the United States, students of Spanish-speaking descent classified as Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx attending public school districts continue to demonstrate alarmingly high academic underachievement and dropout rates. Standards-based learning environments and related assessments tend to marginalize people whose lived realities already make the prospect of achievement daunting. In other words, people living amid high-risk factors, including low educational and occupational aspirations, health, or family-related absenteeism, counterculture or early pregnancy, are often among those whose decision to drop out is most often influenced by social and academic experiences (Rumberger, 2011). Research on neuroplasticity and mindfulness explains the influence emotions have on all aspects of our lives, including decision-making processes and health, and suggests that focus may serve as inroads leading to personal development and achievement. However, where are marginalized students expected to learn about mindfulness beyond closing their eyes and breathing?

This research explores how emotions and identity factor into achievement and persistence among marginalized students. Sharing her study in the form of a reflective narrative, one woman chronicles her path from generational poverty, marginalization, and dropout to the pursuit of scholarly research. She narrates how her personal and professional identities complected and guided her phenomenological autoethnographic study on mindfulness-supported transformational teaching and learning.

The current research presents an example of a unique journey and reflections of one woman’s memories of those who dared to challenge the social constructions of agency and habitus and instead embraced the emergent and contingent nature of life as they plotted a path toward a lineage transformation. The autoethnographic research on the influence mindfulness has on emotions, identity, and achievement contributes seeds to future research on mindfulness, academic achievement, educational persistence, and health.

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