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.

Undergraduates Formerly in Foster Care - Royel Johnson
Undergraduates Formerly in Foster Care - Royel Johnson
Undergraduates Formerly in Foster Care - Royel JohnsonUndergraduates Formerly in Foster Care - Royel Johnson
@rwatkins says:
Next time, in episode 69 of Parsing Science, we’ll be joined by Trevor Wardill from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. He’ll talk with us about his research into the hitherto-unknown ability of cuttlefish to see in stereo vision, a trait which he identified by having them wear 3D glasses.
@rwatkins says:
Royel's article concludes with the recommendation that future researchers employ an "anti-deficit" framework for thinking about or reframing questions when examining the experiences of undergraduate youth formerly in foster care. For instance, rather than solely studying how negative stereotypes about youth in foster care can affect their academic performance and engagement in school, an anti-deficit approach might aim to understand how students negotiate and resist such stereotypes and persist ... in spite of them. So we finished our conversation by asking what work he believes can be done to further investigate the factors that stand to enhance the success of historically underserved populations.
@rwatkins says:
One of the things that makes Royel's systematic review stand out among others that [Ryan/Doug] and I have encountered is that it includes a broad range of research perspectives and paradigms, including both qualitative and quantitative studies, as well as those using multiple- and mixed-methods. As this must have been a challenging undertaking, Doug and I were interested in hearing about his experience with doing so.
@rwatkins says:
We'll hear what Royel found with regard to the factors related to students' social networks and policies and practices of colleges after this short break.
@rwatkins says:
In his article, Royel categorizes the findings of his systematic review across four levels: individual, family, community, and institution factors. Here's what he had to say about what he about regarding the factors that are associated with the academic success of undergraduate youth formerly in foster care.
@rwatkins says:
A theoretical framework is a set of related concepts or propositions about social phenomena that either help explain the relationships between a set of concepts, or predict an outcome. The framework Royel chose as a lens for interpreting his findings was Laura Rendón's Student Success Model. So we asked him to tell us more about Rendón and her model.
@rwatkins says:
Along with other "study of studies" such as meta-analyses, systematic reviews are often considered a "gold standard" of academic research in that they aggregate the results of previous research. In Royel's study, this involved his synthesis of 46 prior studies spanning various fields, such as higher education, student affairs, social work, and child and family studies. As neither Doug nor I have used the technique in our own research, we were curious to learn what systematic review entails.
@rwatkins says:
Next, we transitioned into his study by asking Royel to summarize his research questions regarding undergraduate youth formerly in foster care, as well as how he arrived at those questions.
@rwatkins says:
In his article, Royel writes that the decision to use the phrase "youth formerly in foster care" rather than "former foster care youth" is deliberate and reflective of a commitment to using "person-first" language. So we were interested in learning how the words and labels we use to describe youth affected by the foster care system - and the order of those words - can conjure imagery and ascribe different meanings, both positive and negative.
@rwatkins says:
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 him interested in studying youth formerly in foster care as an underserved population 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

    Music

    What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers

    Transcript

    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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