CCWT Publications


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Her, P.(2024). Radical Hope: Career Interventions for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education. Early Career Scholars Program. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. University of Wisconsin–Madison, Division of Continuing Studies.

Abstract: The nature of work is in a constant state of flux, and this trend is expected to persist in the future (Allen et al., 2021). These changes affect workers by providing less job security, which significantly impacts their overall wellness (Allen et al., 2021). Therefore, higher education institutions should pay attention to their efforts as they prepare students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, for the workforce. This brief discusses the experiences of underrepresented students in higher education and proposes the use of radical hope as a career intervention to support students in their career exploration process. It includes examples of career interventions that employ a radical hope framework.

Keywords: Radical hope, career intervention, underrepresented students

Chin, M. Y.(2023). Redefining Student Success: When College Students Choose to Leave. Early Career Scholars Program. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. University of Wisconsin–Madison, Division of Continuing Studies.

Abstract: The financial value of higher education in the United States has been increasingly contested given college affordability concerns for students, and broader economic uncertainties, such as inflation (Levine, 2023; U.S. Federal Reserve, 2023). While research has demonstrated the benefits of a college degree, the public’s perception of its overall value has been waning (Schleifer et al., 2022). With respect to the benefits of college, national survey data from the U.S. Census between 1975 and 2015 showed that respondents with college degrees reported higher salaries, better health behaviors (e.g., exercise), and more civic engagement (e.g., volunteering) than those without (Ma et al., 2016). This brief provides overviews the types and contributions of college student transition programs towards student success in four-year institutions, in the context of dominant and critical theoretical frameworks on student retention and success. It further discusses the potential for institutions to structurally augment their support for students who are contemplating leaving college. Recommendations for policy, practice, and research are discussed.

Jang-Tucci, K., Benbow, R. J., & Bañuelos, N., (2023). Using Multiple Generator Random Interpreters (MGRIs) for Studying Undergraduate Student Support Networks. Networks & Cultural Assets Project. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. University of Wisconsin–Madison, Division of Continuing Studies.

Abstract: Researchers in higher education who study social support networks—groups of interpersonal relationships through which individuals exchange help, advice, and guidance (Wasserman & Faust, 1994)—widely use name generators and interpreters in surveys. “Name generators” are questions that elicit the names of people with whom survey respondents exchange information or discuss certain topics. After collecting these names, surveys often include “name interpreters” that ask respondents to provide information on the people who have been listed, including, for example, each person’s role in the respondent’s life, their education level, how close the respondent feels affectively to each person, etc. This research brief introduces the Multiple Generator Random Interpreter (MGRI; Marin & Hampton, 2007), a method for collecting personal or “ego” network data, as an alternative to traditional name generators and interpreters in social network research. Specifically, we focus on: (1) How MGRIs are different from Traditional Name Generators and Interpreters (TNGIs), and (2) What new insights can be yielded from using MGRIs when assessing college students’ support networks. We answer  with a review of social network literature, and then focus on  describing research methods and empirical evidence from two studies we have conducted of Latino/a/x/e (hereinafter “Latine”) college students in two U.S. states. We conclude with insights from our analyses and links to resources for implementing MGRIs in online surveys.

Bañuelos, N.,  Jang-Tucci, K., & Benbow, R. (2023). Forming Science Identity in Personal Networks: A Quantitative Study of Social Support for Latine STEM Students. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Abstract: Although Latine students and their families maintain high aspirations for their achievement in STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), they continue to face barriers to STEM degree completion and remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Social support systems are key to science identity formation and sense of belonging, two important predictors of persistence and attainment in STEM, particularly among historically marginalized students (Chemers et al., 2011; Strayhorn, 2012). For this reason, documenting Latine college students’ social networks – including their strengths, structure, and how they change over time– can help researchers understand trajectories in STEM.

Using the Community Cultural Wealth framework (CCW) – a theory focused on strengths within Communities of Color (Yosso, 2005) – this study examines survey responses from Latine STEM majors across the University of Texas System and measures important contours of Latine STEM students’ social networks, including (1) the features of these social networks, (2) the forms of CCW students possess in their social networks, and (3) the relationships that exist between students’ networks, science identity, and sense of belonging.

Turenne-Akram, T., Wolfgram, M., Collet-Klingenberg, L., & Yu, H. (2022). What can we learn from research about internships for students with disabilities? Preliminary results from the survey of the College Internship Study. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (Research Brief #19). University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Abstract: Internships in higher education provide academic and career development opportunities during college and post-graduation. There have been many studies that focus on the benefits of participating in an internship. However, there are significant barriers to accessing internships that can arise as a result of the students’ socio-economic status, their limited time, family obligations, academic commitments (Hora, et al., 2019), as well as raced, classed, gendered and other intersectional identity-factors (Wolfgram et al., 2021). This brief uses the findings of the College Internship Study to understand internship participation for students with disabilities and discusses the lack of research on how disability-stigma impacts students’ access to internships.

Schalewski, L. (2021). The Role of Socioeconomic Status and Internships on Early Career Earnings: Evidence for Widening and Rerouting Pathways to Social Mobility. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (Research Brief #18). University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Abstract: The research brief first summarizes findings on internships, a university structure, pulled from a study that more broadly examined how student engagement and high-impact practices relate to post-graduation outcomes among students from different SES backgrounds (Schalewski, 2020). First, results suggest internships have a mediating role between a student’s (SES) and early career earnings. Next, results show students from middle-SES backgrounds or those within quartiles two and three experience a significant effect from internship participation on early career earnings with non-significant findings for the lowest and highest quartiles. The brief concludes with implications for practice that aim to widen and reroute pathways to internships for lower- SES students to increase opportunities that lead to higher early career salaries and set trajectories for social mobility.

Bañuelos, N. (2021). Community Cultural Wealth Goes to College: A Review of the Literature for Career Services Professionals and Researchers. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (Research Brief #17). University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Abstract: Created by LatCrit scholars in the mid-2000s, Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) is an anti-deficit framework for understanding educational inequality. Since its publication, Yosso’s (2005) seminal paper on the topic has been cited thousands of times by scholars in fields as distinct as engineering, K12 education, and public health. This report reviews the recent scholarship on college students’ experiences and outcomes that uses CCW as a guiding framework. Although the intended audience for this review is career services professionals in colleges and universities, my hope is it can also be helpful for scholars of career development who want to brush up on the CCW literature and consider future research questions the framework presents. The existing literature offers insights on the college-to-career transition: it reveals the centrality of familial capital in shaping students’ career pathways, the function of resistant capital in forming students’ career interests, the utility of students’ existing social capital in the job search process, and the role of counterspaces in activating CCW for career success. However, CCW scholarship typically focuses on college students’ matriculation, persistence, sources of support, and well-being, not on their career development—including the psychological, spiritual, sociocultural, political and economic factors influencing students’ career interests and the knowledge, relationships, and environmental contexts shaping their career choices (Duffy & Dik, 2009). This gap presents opportunities for researchers and career services professionals to partner in creating and evaluating programming with CCW in mind. There are also opportunities to increase the methodological diversity of CCW scholarship, to consider the ways in which students mix CCW with “dominant” forms of capital for career success, to collect data from employers, faculty, and other gatekeepers, and to account for the role of institutional context.

Hora, M.T., Huerta, A., Gopal, A., & Wolfgram, M. (2021). A review of the literature on internships for Latinx students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Toward a Latinx-serving internship experience. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (Research Brief #16). University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Abstract: Internships are a widely promoted “high-impact practice” (HIP) across the postsecondary landscape, particularly among minority-serving institutions (MSIs) where they are seen as potentially transformative vehicles for students’ career success and social mobility. However, little research exists on if and how the design, implementation, and ultimate effects of college internships may (or should) vary according to the unique institutional contexts of MSIs such as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and students’ racial identities and cultural backgrounds. This idea is based on research demonstrating that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to classroom teaching, student advising, and broader approaches to student engagement ignores both historic and structural inequalities while also overlooking the unique needs, circumstances and potentials of a diverse student body. Consequently, our main goal in this paper is to review the literature on internships in HSIs and with Latinx college students to determine if internship program design, implementation and student experience varies based on the unique institutional contexts of HSIs and/or the racial and cultural attributes of Latinx college students.

To address this issue we conducted an integrative review of the literature on HIPs in general and internships in particular as they relate to Latinx students and HSIs. Our results indicate a small but growing body of empirical research on these topics, some that highlight how specific features of HSIs (e.g., institutional missions, “servingness”) and Latinx students (e.g., family capital, cultural perspectives on work) influence how HIPs and internships are designed and experienced. These insights underscore the importance of accounting for cultural, structural and historic factors when studying and designing internship programs. We conclude the paper with a review of existing theoretical frameworks for studying HSIs and a proposal for a new research agenda that pays close attention to the role of culture at individual, group, institutional and societal levels. Ultimately, we contend that while certain universal principles of internship design and implementation are likely to be applicable for HSIs and Latinx students, there are critical differences and opportunities for internships in these institutions and for these students that should be acknowledged and incorporated into HIPs-related policymaking and practice.

Lee, L., Xiong, P., Xiong, Y., Yang, L., Smolarek, B., Vang, M., Wolfgram, M., Moua, P., Thao, A. & Xiong, O. (2020). The Necessity of Ethnic Studies: Prioritizing Ethnic Studies During COVID 19 and Beyond. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (Research Brief #16). University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a devastating ripple effect on educational institutions—from budget cuts to health and safety concerns to changes in learning environments. In higher education specifically, Covid-19 is disrupting student lives by interrupting in-person learning, forcing students out of their living spaces, and causing students to suffer financially. The consequences of the pandemic have also led to financial crises for universities, causing administrators to make challenging budgetary decisions. Unfortunately, during times of budget scarcity, colleges and universities have historically opted—and continue to opt—for cuts that impact students of color profoundly, including deep cuts to diversity and inclusion efforts and ethnic studies programs, suspensions of ethnic studies faculty hiring, and even resulting in the termination of tenure-track faculty positions in ethnic studies (Bikales & Chen, 2020; Meyerhofer, 2020; Myers, 2014; Wang, 2016).

University administrators are currently having to make hard financial decisions which will have lasting impacts on students, staff, and their communities. Within this looming financial crisis, with multiple competing priorities and far less resources than in the past, in this report, we argue that ethnic studies programs must be prioritized for continued investment. Continued.

Fetter, A & Thompson, M. (2020). Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic for Undergraduate Students attending an HBCU: Insights from Student Voices. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (Research Brief #14). University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Executive Summary: Limited attention has been paid to the impact of COVID-19 on college students who are attending minority-serving institutions, despite the disproportionate toll COVID-19 has on minoritized communities and the worsening of pre-existing inequity brought about by the pandemic (Kantamneni, 2020; Kimbrough, 2020; Strada, 2020). It is vital to understand experiences with COVID-19 among college students who are attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which serve as primary educational pathways for Black students in the U.S. Themes from our interviews with 41 students attending an HBCU highlight that students are experiencing significant work-related, academic, financial, and socio-emotional challenges related to COVID-19. Stressors and concerns were viewed by students as interrelated and cumulative. In addition, themes from the interviews suggested that student stressors must be viewed within the contexts of the higher education institution, student life experiences and circumstances, and their positionality within large structural systems. Given the far-ranging and ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on higher education, this Research Brief concludes with recommendations to advocate for and support students.

Hora, M., Forbes, J., & Preston, D. (2020). What do we know about internships at HBCUs? A review of the literature and agenda for future research. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (Research Brief #13). University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Abstract: Internships and other high-impact practices (HIPs) that feature experiential learning are being increasingly promoted at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) as a way to support students’ career and academic success. In this paper we review the literature on what is known about HIPs and internships at HBCUs and how students’ racial identities have influenced interns’ experiences and outcomes. Our analysis finds little empirical research on internships at HBCUs and a general lack of in-depth and critical analysis on the ways that racial identity and the unique institutional cultures of HBCUs impact internships and Black student experiences. We then review contextual forces salient to Black interns’ experiences such as pervasive workplace discrimination, and theoretical frameworks that could inform future research on the ways that race, culture, institutional features and local “field effects” interact to shape student experiences and professional development. We conclude by outlining a research agenda for studying internships that foregrounds issues of racial justice, adopts elements of Bourdieu’s relational sociology, and investigates how the unique cultures of HBCUs influence how internships are designed, implemented and experienced.

Zhang, J., Chen, Z., Wu, Z., & Hora, M. (2020). An Introduction to Technical and Vocational Education in China: Implications for Comparative Research and Practice on Internships. Research Brief #12. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. UW-Madison.

Abstract: Internship plays an important role in students’ career preparation and college-to-workforce transition. Although there are a large body of studies on college student internships, there were relatively fewer on that of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) students. Such a critical topic worth more attention and exploration. This report focuses on TVET system in China considering that China has the largest but under-developed TVET system in the world which prioritizes economic development and social mobility as its main missions. The aim of this report is to systematically introduce the TVET and its internship policies in China. The report presents the unique structure, the history, and development of China’s secondary and higher TVET. Notably, along with a downward trend of the secondary TVET since 2010, there had been an upward trend of the higher TVET since the late 1990s’ in contrast. Overall, issued policies largely influence the direction of Chinese TVET development, especially in regard to regulating internship activities in aspects of internship organization, management, assessment. Implications for research and policymaking for internships in China and the U.S. were discussed. This report provides insights to international scholars who are interested in conducting comparative studies on internship in TVET systems.

Moua, P., Thao, A., Xiong, O., Lee, L., Smolarek, B., Vang, M. N., Wolfgram, M., Xiong, P. K., Xiong, Y. Y., & Yang, L. (2020). Weaving the Paj Ntaub for future HMoob Students: A compiled collection of advice. Wisconsin Center for Education Research. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Abstract: This report intends to share the knowledge and advice of current and former HMoob students who attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With their responses, the Paj Ntaub research team gleaned advice that these participants wished to pass along to current and future HMoob students. Through many of our interviews, participants shared advice on subjects that they themselves wished they had received during their time at UW-Madison.These responses came from 36 current students 31 former students with a total of 71 individuals and encompassed ideas around lack of familiarity with campus, making career decisions, experiences tied specifically to multidimensional identities, and stereotypes associated with attending UW-Madison. Students come to college with different experiences, goals, and expectations and this may lead to contradicting advice. In this report, we understand and want to shed light on these experiences by giving the space for each and every type of advice.

Hora, M.T., Wolfgram, M., Chen, Z., Zhang, J. & Fischer, J. (2020). A sociocultural analysis of internship supervision: Insights from a mixed-methods study at five postsecondary institutions. WCER Working Paper 2020-8. Wisconsin Center for Education Research. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Abstract: Internships are widely promoted extra-curricular experiences that can have positive impacts on student outcomes, yet how specific elements of internships contribute to these outcomes and facilitate learning is understudied. In this sequential mixed-methods study, we use sociocultural learning theory to interpret data from surveys (n = 435) and focus groups (n = 52) with students at five postsecondary institutions. After stepwise linear regression analyses indicated that supervisor behaviors were significantly associated with intern satisfaction and career development, analyses of qualitative data revealed features of positive (clear communication, availability, feedback) and negative (unavailability, inattention to learning) aspects of supervision. These results highlight the value of legitimate peripheral participation in internships, and the need for colleges and employers to carefully design and monitor these pedagogic spaces.

Hora, M.T., Wolfgram, M., Brown, R., Colston, J., Zhang, J., Chen, Z., & Chen, Z. (2020). The Internship Scorecard: A new framework for evaluating college internships on the basis of purpose, quality and equitable access. Research Brief #11. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Executive Summary: While internships are widely praised and promoted as a “door opener” to opportunity, the impact of these work-based learning programs on students is complicated by the variability in how they are designed, implemented and experienced. Consequently, instead of assuming that participation unequivocally results in positive academic and labor market outcomes, the field needs conceptual tools to distinguish internship programs from one another and to evaluate their efficacy, quality and commitment to equity. In this report we first review various frameworks that distinguish different types of work-based learning and internship programs, and then describe a new framework for distinguishing internships on the basis of purpose, quality and equity – The Internship Scorecard.

This new framework is based on theory and evidence from cultural anthropology, the learning sciences and work-based learning, and is designed for higher education professionals, funders, policymakers and employers so that they can – with more nuance and precision than is currently available – make distinctions between program types and begin to “score” programs at the individual-level or in the aggregate for entire institutions. An example of how the Internship Scorecard can be used in practice is provided, along with next steps for the analysis and improvement of college internship programs.

Note: We are very interested to hear any feedback that you might have about The Internship Scorecard. We are especially interested in hearing your thoughts, critiques and suggestions for how the Scorecard can be used in practice to study and/or evaluate internships.

Please leave your comments here.

Hora, M.T., Vivona, B.,Chen, Z., Zhang, J., Thompson, M., & Brown, R. (2020). What do we know about online internships? A review of the academic and practitioner literatures. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions Research Brief #10. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Abstract: Internships are one of the most widely promoted co-curricular experiences for college students, and the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shelter-in-place orders led to a substantial growth in the availability and popularity of online internships. However, little is known about the impacts of online internships on student outcomes. In this literature review we present key trends and findings from the academic and practitioner literatures on online internships. Relatively little empirical research exists on online internships, but researchers have found that pre-internship orientations, self-regulated learning, sufficient technology, and effective supervision are important for successful experiences. Our review also highlights that considerable variation exists among online internships, especially with respect to the host organization (i.e., employers or third-party vendors), compliance with standards for legitimate and high-quality internships, and duration. Ultimately, we conclude that standards articulated for “legitimate internships” by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and for rigorous experiential learning programs by CCWT should also be applied to online and/or remote internship programs. We conclude our review with recommendations for students, postsecondary professionals, employers and higher education researchers.