What factors best predict success at college among youth formerly in foster care? In Episode 68, Royel Johnson from Pennsylvania State University‘s Department of Education Policy Studies discusses systematic literature review of research on the college success of this historically underserved population. His article “The state of research on undergraduate youth formerly in foster care: A systematic review of the literature” published on October 24, 2019 in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.



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    Hosts / Producers

    Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

    How to Cite

    Leigh, D., Watkins, R., & Johnson, R.. (2020). Parsing Science – Undergraduates Formerly in Foster Care. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11872152


    What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


    Royel Johnson: There’s a lot that we can learn from those who do succeed, and defy the odds, and understanding students who have garnered success.

    Doug Leigh: This is Parsing Science: the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Doug Leigh.

    Ryan Watkins: And I’m Ryan Watkins. Today in episode 68 of Parsing Science, we’re joined by Royel Johnson from the Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Education Policy Studies. He’ll talk with us about his research into the success of undergraduate youth formerly in foster care, a historically underserved student population. Here’s Royel Johnson.

    Johnson: Hi, I’m Royel Johnson assistant professor of Education in African-American studies at Pennsylvania State University. I’m also research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. Originally from Chicago; went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with an interest in becoming an attorney, believe it or not. I majored in political science and by the end of my senior year – I was one of those overly involved students who did not take the time needed to really get a competitive score on the LSAT and secure admissions to the kind of schools that I really wanted to go to. So I was a bit frustrated about what my professional future would look like. But, at the time, I studied with a group of graduate students who were all education policy majors. And I was sharing with them at one of our study sessions about my frustrations about my professional career, and where I was going to be going. I was nearing graduation at the time and still had not figured out what I was going to do. And they express that I had some … I seem to have some curiosity around education policy, given my interest in political science. So I literally applied to University of Illinois within a week of the application deadline, was accepted several weeks later fully funded, and that was my entrée into education policy. Did two years in the education policy program and, by the end of the first year, I recognized that I was more interested in higher education policy. Transferred to Ohio State, graduated in 2015 with a PhD in Higher Education and Student Affairs with a particular focus on race and social policy. Stayed for an additional two years in a postdoctoral position. And Penn State was the first job that gave me an interview; moved very quickly to an offer, and rest is history.

    Leigh: Royel carries out interdisciplinary research related to educational access, equity, and student success, as well as the influence of race, education, and social policy on these issues. Given the multiple intersections among these matters, Ryan and I began our conversation by asking what got them interested in studying youth formerly in foster care as an underserved population in higher education.

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