AVID through student perspectives: a qualitative study on AVID students' experiences in the program
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The purpose of this research was to examine how Hispanic high school students represent their experiences in one college readiness program, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), which is designed to prepare students in the academic middle for four-year college. Utilizing social and cultural capital theories, I examined student perspectives on the supports AVID provided for them to gain the social and cultural capital needed for success in school and entry to college. I conducted eight forty-five minute semistructured interviews grounded in an ethnographic perspective. Eight participating AVID students came from low socioeconomic backgrounds, were Hispanics in the academic middle (GPA 2.0-2.9) in tenth grade. Utilizing the ethnographic principles of studying cultural practices, undertaking contrastive analyses, and adopting a holistic perspective, I conducted a four-level process of analysis to uncover the academic and personal supports as the two overarching themes students signaled as key in shaping their AVID experiences. The findings demonstrate that interpersonal supports, which included familial relationships with their peers and with the AVID elective teacher who also acted as a mentor, enabled students to gain social capital. The social capital was then utilized to gain cultural capital in the form of academic supports, including learning logs, debates, Cornell Notes, and an AVID binder. Aspects of AVID which shaped the development of both social and cultural capital included college knowledge, college aspirations, and high expectations. AVID helped students in the academic middle gain access to social and cultural capital that they did not have before, in this way bridging the achievement gap for low socioeconomic minority students. Being in the AVID program has made the participants in this study feel that they can be successful and go to college; all they needed were tools and knowledge that the AVID program provided. Based on the research findings it is recommended that schools identify students in the "forgotten middle" and place them in a college readiness program with supportive teachers who act as institutional agents and help students develop the social and cultural capital they need to succeed in school and in life.