BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Sonja Ardoin, assistant professor of student affairs administration in the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling, housed in the Reich College of Education, has received $3,000 in grant funding from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA)-College Student Educators International for her project titled “Experiences of Social Class and Classism in Higher Education.”
Ardoin’s grant is part of the 2019–21 Emerging Scholar Award she received from ACPA-College Student Educators International — one of the most prestigious recognitions for early-career scholars in the field of student affairs.
Ardoin said her study, which began in March 2019 and will conclude in May 2021, “will explore and describe how and in what ways social class identity and classism show up in and influence higher education experiences.”
“Higher education is not class neutral; in fact, classism is still pervasive in the academy and can, consciously or not, affirm and replicate social class distinctions,” Ardoin said, citing Oregon State University sociology professor Dr. Allison L. Hurst and University of Minnesota student affairs research analyst Dr. Krista M. Soria.
Ardoin said the goal of the project is to construct a “universal essence,” or a shared experience of social class in higher education from the perspective of individuals from poor and working class backgrounds.
Ten participants for each of the study’s two phases will be selected through purposive and criterion sampling strategies, Ardoin said, with each participant self-defining as a current administrator or faculty member at a four-year public college or university who has a poor or working class background.
Her research will pose the following questions to participants:
- How does social class and classism show up in higher education?
- How about specifically in your office or department?
- How about more broadly in your institution and in the field? In what ways, if any, does your own social class influence your work in higher education?
Data collection methods for the study will include semistructured individual interviews and participant journals guided by reflective prompts.
Ardoin said the data will be transcribed, reviewed and analyzed through an inductive, three-phase process, including identifying significant statements, constructing meaning units and describing the how and what, or essence, of the phenomena of social class identity and classism in higher education.
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About the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling
The Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling in Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education is responsible for organizing and providing instructional programs in counseling and other human development functions for public schools, colleges and universities and various agencies. The department offers Master of Arts degrees in clinical mental health counseling, professional school counseling, student affairs administration and marriage and family therapy. Learn more at https://hpc.appstate.edu.
About the Reich College of Education
Appalachian State University offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls more than 2,000 students in its bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.