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Aspirations: Overcoming Barriers to Success through Pre- and Post-secondary School Partnerships

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Chelsea Cefalu Lafayette College

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Chelsea Cefalu is the Assistant Director, Community-Based Learning and Research at Lafayette College. She is a life-long advocate of social justice ideals, believing that all people are entitled to the benefits and duties of living in a cooperative society. Of particular interest to her is equity in education and how mentee/mentor relationships in academic activities can influence the learning and civic development of students. She is passionate about helping to build lasting, reciprocal relationships between members of the Lafayette and Easton communities, while encouraging the students with whom she works to become active citizens who prioritize their communities in their daily lives.

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Arthur D. Kney Lafayette College

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Arthur D. Kney received his doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Engineering from Lehigh University in 1999, his professional engineering license 2007 and became a Board Certified Environmental Engineer in 2017. He is currently serving as a Professor of Environmental Engineering at Lafayette College. He is also serves as the Director, Landis Center for Community Engagement. Kney has served as chair of the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association (PWEA) research committee, chair of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Committee, vice president of Lehigh Valley Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), secretary of ASCE/Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Water Supply Engineering Committee and been a member of the AWWA/ASCE WTP Design 4th Edition Steering Committee. He currently serves on PWEA's Research Committee and Water Works Operators’ Association of Pennsylvania (WWOAP) scholarship committee, and locally on the the Bushkill Stream Conservancy board member, as well as a number of Lafayette College committees. Dr. Kney has also been the recipient of various research, teaching and community engagement awards.

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The goal of this study is to understand how participation in learning and teaching partnerships between (1) pre-secondary school teachers and students at a school with high barriers to success and (2) post-secondary school faculty and students impacts elementary school students’ knowledge of, interest in, and aspirations toward post-secondary education. In collaboration with elementary school teachers, university faculty and students participating in self-selected Community-Based Learning and Research Courses have begun to develop assessment tools that measure the degree of these outcomes. Data regarding aspirational levels and the practical value of the teaching and learning modules will be evaluated according to pre- and post- focus groups held with both control and experimental groups, and through observation during the classroom modules. Based on these focus groups and observations, a metric of measurable responses is being developed Elementary teachers and Lafayette faculty and staff. A secondary goal of this study will be to understand how this partnership will impact College students’ sense of civic engagement, understanding of diverse populations, connection with course material, and development of leadership skills. These outcomes will be measured through pre- and post- module 5-point Likert scale surveys as well as open-ended interview questions. Research will be conducted with elementary school students and teachers and college faculty and students enrolled in specified Community-Based Learning and Research courses at College. Preliminary data points to positive impact, primarily through attitudes about higher education and perceptions of what college actually “looks like.” The overall program has begun to expand across K-12, with links tied to programs being introduced beyond elementary in middle school and high school.

Cefalu, C., & Kney, A. D. (2020, June), Aspirations: Overcoming Barriers to Success through Pre- and Post-secondary School Partnerships Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34169

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