The Every Learner Everywhere network has released a new report illustrating how barriers to equity in digital learning differ across racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds – and are exacerbated by higher education’s tendency to aggregate student data into monolithic categories.
Toward Ending the Monolithic View of “Underrepresented Students:” Why Higher Education Must Account for Racial, Ethnic, and Economic Variations in Barriers to Equity synthesizes commentary, research, and programmatic activity on how higher education has so far grappled with disaggregating and using student data to confront and close equity gaps for particular student populations. The report findings include takeaways from original interviews with 17 experts, including faculty, administrators, researchers, advocates, and students.
Based on the mission and priorities of Every Learner Everywhere, Toward Ending the
Monolithic View of “Underrepresented Students:” outlines evidence-based insight into how barriers to equity vary for college and university students in the U.S. who are Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American and Pacific Islander, poverty-affected, and first-generation.
While aggregated data about students in these populations is sometimes necessary to initiate analysis and discussion, overreliance on aggregated data about all
“underrepresented” or “disadvantaged” students leaves a critical gap in knowledge in U.S. higher education, report authors contend.
Policies, support programs, and teaching practices intended to address student equity
barriers to equitable learning (including differences in college-going knowledge, academic readiness, community support, informational access, financial resources, and more) are limited by the tendency to treat all racially and ethnically minoritized, poverty-affected, and first-generation student populations as a monolith whose circumstances and needs are generally the same. In contrast, the students and other experts featured in the report describe how disaggregating data has many potential benefits.