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The Subjectivity of Student Success: Instructor's Perceptions of the Ideal Student in a Compensatory Program for Minority Youth

Abstract
Student success has been understood primarily in the context of conventional classroom settings. Yet, despite the prevalence of pre-college programs in the lives of disadvantaged students, few studies explore how notions of success are conceptualized within these spaces. This study explores what counts as student success in a pre-college program from the perspective of those facilitating the program. Using archival program data consisting of 524 student performance evaluations, this study asks, In a program designed to remedy or level the playing field for historically disadvantaged students, what behaviors, attitudes, and outcomes count as success? The findings of this study suggest that what counts as student success and who is considered an ideal student is constructed by instructor’s perceptions and assessments of both student’s cognitive abilities and non-cognitive qualities. This study also shows that mainstream and stereotypical judgments about effort, character, and success more broadly persist even in spaces intended to supplement and, in many ways, serve as an alternative to traditional academic settings.
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