Wednesday April 22, 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Early: $150 Advance: $175 Onsite: $195
W5 - Creating Structures that Support Academic Success for Low-income, First-generation and Racially Minoritized Students

The presenters will engage attendees in a workshop focused on how to create integrated and aligned structures within postsecondary institutions that positively influence the academic engagement and outcomes for low-income, first-generation and racially minoritized college students. Drawing from a comprehensive six-year mixed methods study of Thompson Scholars Learning Communities (TSLC) within the University of Nebraska system, a new framework for student success has been developed. An Ecology of Validation demonstrates how institutional leaders, administrators, staff and instructors play pivotal roles in the academic experiences of underserved student groups. However, the supports offered need to be integrated and aligned with a focus on creating validating experiences for students who traditionally feel disconnected from higher education. This session will include opportunities to workshop how to practically implement strategies designed to improve retention and educational outcomes. 

The Thompson Scholars Learning Communities (TSLC) Study is a six-year, $6.2 million research project that seeks to explore, document and better understand whether TSLC, a living-learning college success and transition program at three University of Nebraska campuses, translates into greater student success. Students selected to participate in TSLC are called Thompson Scholars and enrolled at one of three University of Nebraska campuses: University of Nebraska at OmahaUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln, and University of Nebraska at Kearney. Predominantly first-generation, low-income students, Thompson Scholars receive scholarships, academic support and individualized attention in order to foster academic success and engagement in campus life. This comprehensive, mixed-methods research project measures the experiences for Thompson Scholars not only by traditional academic short- and long-term outcomes such as retention and GPA, but also other psychosocial outcomes such academic, social and career self-efficacy, resiliency, validation, mattering, and sense of belonging.

Ronald Hallett
Professor of Organizational Leadership, LaFetra College of Education
University of La Verne

Ronald Hallett is Professor of Organizational Leadership in the LaFetra College of Education at the University of La Verne and a research associate in the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. A former school teacher, he now researches the educational experiences that marginalized youth face in their pursuit of completing high school and transitioning to college. Specifically, he has spent the past ten years studying the educational experiences of youth experiencing homelessness. In addition to publishing several research articles and book chapters on the topic, he recently authored or coauthored three books related to youth homelessness – Educational Experiences of Hidden Homeless Teenagers (Routledge, 2012); Serving Students who are Homeless: A Resource Guide for Schools, Districts and Educational Leaders (with Linda Skrla, Teachers College Press, 2016); and, Homelessness and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education (with Rashida Crutchfield, ASHE Higher Education Report Series, 2018).

Dusten Crichton
Director, Thompson Learning Community (TLC)
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Dusten Crichton is the Director of the Thompson Learning Community (TLC) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  As Director, Dusten has guided TLC since 2013.  During this time the program has grown exponentially.  Dusten is passionate about supporting and guiding students from marginalized backgrounds in higher education. Dusten was a first-generation, low-income (nearly homeless) college student who started at a community college then transferred a major research institution.  Dusten started his career in higher education in Housing and Residence Life prior to moving to the academic affairs.