Publications

2019
Jenny Golden. 5/9/2019. “Balancing Act: Coordinator Leadership Styles and Practices in Mission Hill After School Program”.Abstract

Mission Hill After School Program is a student-operated PBHA program that provides after-school childcare, homework assistance and curriculum to students ages 6-13+ in the Mission Hill community in Boston. Coordinators in the program are college students in charge of managing both the students in attendance and the student tutors (counselors). The research of this paper sought to determine strong leadership styles and practices for coordinators that allows for both the children and the student counselors to be positively impacted by the program. The research focuses on leadership styles for coordinators of Blue Group, which works with 11 and 12 year olds. The research pieces together data from an expert interview, counselor survey, and current/former coordinator and counselor interviews. The paper finds that it is beneficial for coordinators to focus on building mutual trust and respect with the students, be flexible in nature, communicate clearly, and consider displaying some initial authority. Recommendations for future actions also include improving training of counselors and coordinators, developing an institutional memory, increasing feedback opportunities, and creating a list of tips and tricks.

sociology_final_research_paper-jenny_golden.pdf
Charlotte Kim. 5/9/2019. “Bursting the Business Bubble -- Expanding the Diversity of Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business”.Abstract

This research paper investigates the diversity, as pertains to both race represented by the membership and industries represented by the programming, of Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business (WIB). Upon laying out the blueprint for action, the paper provides introductory context about the organization and about my role as Co-President of the organization. Next, there are sections dedicated to literature review, description of the methods used, and analysis of the data collected through a survey and in-depth interviews. The piece concludes with a discussion of the findings and suggestions for further exploration and research.

soc1130_final_paper-charlotte_kim.pdf
Sarah Rodriguez. 5/9/2019. “Coming Back to Harvard: How Leave of Absence Policies Affect Student Success”.Abstract

How do students experience taking a leave of absence from Harvard University, and then reintegrating back into university life? To gain insight into this question, a survey of Harvard students who had taken a leave of absence was completed by 34 respondents. Survey results showed that students received a wide range of information on Harvard’s policies during the process of taking a leave of absence, indicating that more information should be provided to students to supplement Harvard’s existing publications. In addition to survey responses, a comparative analysis of the policies and information provided by Harvard University and Princeton University was conducted to formalize a list of recommendations for improvement. Recommendations include a revisit of the work requirement for students who take a medical leave of absence and the improvement of the online materials presented to students searching for information on the Leave of Absence policies.

sarah_rodriguez_final_paper.pdf
Aidan Connaughton. 5/9/2019. “Late Night Nibbles: Student Worker and Community Priorities at Dunster Grille”.Abstract

Student food establishments at Harvard (including Dunster Grille) serve an important function in the living-learning communities of the undergraduate Houses. How are student managers empowered or disempowered in their work at Dunster Grille, and what areas of improvement exist to help Dunster Grille better achieve its goals of fostering House community and providing a fun and enjoyable work and social environment? Using interview data with other student food establishment managers and administrators, an employee feedback survey, and a community feedback survey, I create a more detailed description of the student-administrator partnership at Dunster Grille as one in which student managers must negotiate the priorities of three different groups: administrators, student employees, and customers. When these priorities are at odds, it is critical that administrators take student concerns seriously. I also propose seven recommendations for the next Dunster Grille managers. Of these recommendations, the most important is that managers must continue to solicit feedback from employees and the community to empower them to make the best decisions for the community. This data may also empower managers to have their voices heard by administrators.

sociol_1130_final_paper_aidan_connaughton.pdf
Ian Saum. 5/9/2019. “Making a House a Home: The Integration of Sophomores into the Harvard Housing System”.Abstract

Within the Harvard housing system, university-funded House Committees (HoCos) sponsor events and help foster a sense of community. I conducted interviews with students in Cabot House students to figure out what students seek in a house, and how HoCo can best help integrate sophomores into house life. The interviews point to how students want their house to be a place of comfort, support, and familiarity during their college experience. However, students begin living in the house for their sophomore year, at which point many students already have pre-established communities on campus and are not looking to be engaged with their housing community. Additionally, students find it difficult to branch out beyond their pre-existing communities and take the first step towards engaging with house life. As a HoCo, it is a priority to find ways to effectively integrate incoming sophomores into the house to best enhance their residential experience. This can be done through increased interactions with upperclassmen, outreach, promoting inclusivity, and hosting a diverse series of events to help first-semester sophomores integrate themselves into the housing community.

sociology_1130_final_paper_ian_saum.pdf
Mona Miao. 5/9/2019. “Managing Through Music: Clarifying Radcliffe Choral Society's Decision-Making Processes”.Abstract
The Radcliffe Choral Society (RCS) is a faculty-conducted choral ensemble that also happens to be a Harvard music department course, a recognized student organization and an independent, student-managed 501(c)3 non-profit. Given the rather unique but complicated organizational structure of RCS, one challenge student leaders face is navigating the different relationships that exist with the various stakeholders (members of the choir, faculty, administration, our alumni foundation, etc) involved, especially in the context of decision-making. This research project sought to clarify ambiguities surrounding decision-making processes and to start honest conversations with student leaders and artistic staff about these challenges the organization faces. Based on a survey of 18 out of 21 members on the Executive Committee and 8 interviews with some of those members and the artistic staff, the perceived issues with decision-making in RCS boiled down to clarity of voting procedures and clarity of student agency or voting implications. The findings led to recommended guidelines for future votes that included mechanisms for better communication and transparency between student leaders and artistic staff in an effort to reduce ambiguity of procedures or implications.
sociol_1130_rcs_final_paper_mona_miao-1.pdf
Kimaya Cole. 5/9/2019. “Self-CARE: How to Manage Emotional Labor as Student Leaders”.Abstract
As the Director of Operations for CARE (Consent Advocates and Relationship Educators), my main responsibilities, in addition to facilitating educational workshops to students that all CAREs take part in, include acting as a liaison between administrators, faculty, deans, and tutors who want to work with CARE and accept, decline, or consider requests for co-sponsorship and event help depending on CAREs’ capacities. This role is rewarding but also challenging. The purpose of this study was to examine how leaders in peer-education and peer-counseling groups balance the emotional labor needed to accomplish all of their role’s responsibilities and tend to other members, all while leaving time for self-care. The sample for this study consisted of Harvard University peer-education and peer-counseling group affiliations, including 2 CARE supervisors and 18 students. Data was collected through a qualitative survey and in-depth interviews. I found three main findings: (1) Emotional Activation is mainly spurred by the consistent type of work and content members interact with when being a resource for their fellow peers; (2) Emotionally-activating work can easily cause burnout of members because it is difficult to stay invested in the well-being of peers when it is often a one-way relationship and little explicit measure of impact; and (3) An individual’s ability to handle the emotional activation from their work and still perform at their best is dependent on how much self-care they do outside of their organization.
soc1130_action_research_design-kimaya_cole.pdf
William Wang. 5/9/2019. “Tell Me About Your Peer Advising Fellow: Surveying First-Year Students on their Peer-Advising Experience”.Abstract

Evaluating the consistency and efficacy of advising programs in higher education is a critical aspect of producing more positive undergraduate student outcomes. This challenge is particularly important for large-scale advising programs, such as Harvard University's Peer Advising Fellows (PAF) program for first-year undergraduates. Despite overwhelming anecdotal evidence of PAFs' ability to make a positive contribution to the first-year experience, feedback mechanisms can still be improved. In response to current questions with the efficacy mid-year advising survey, I set out to identify the purposes and current challenges of the mid-year advising survey through expert interviews with administrators at the Harvard Advising Programs Office (APO) and researchers at the Bok Center for Learning, who also provided written feedback on the current survey tool. Additionally, I conducted focus groups with student leaders of the PAF program and PAFs at large to identify these issues and discuss potential solutions. I note three major findings. First, the PAF survey is created to be a formative tool but PAFs commonly see the survey as an evaluative tool. Second, PAFs want faster feedback mechanisms and more metrics for accountability within the program. Third, not all first-year students can articulate the responsibilities of the PAF clearly. These findings led me to make action-oriented recommendations to improve communication around the survey, hasten feedback delivery time, and facilitate first-years' understanding of the PAF role. Informed by the findings of my research, I worked to create a new modified version of the PAF survey and conducted preliminary testing on the survey's ease of use. Overall, this project's findings will culminate in better understanding of the purpose of soliciting feedback and in the launching of a new survey tool in December 2019.

william_wang_soc_1130_final_research_paper.pdf
2018
Aidan Connaughton. 12/17/2018. “After School Snacks: Student Food Establishments in Undergraduate Housing”.Abstract

Harvard College undergraduate housing hosts six student food establishments within the Houses. These food establishments consist of five grilles and one cafe. Students manage each of these establishments with the aid of administration, though the extent of that support varies distinctly. Operating as late-night dining for undergraduate students, the food establishments are spread throughout the campus so as to allow access to students in all Houses, not just those with food establishments contained within. Student and administrative goals for these spaces are similar: the establishments are not intended to be profitable but rather to be important spaces for social and academic engagement among students. In addition, a lack of late-night hot food from dining services and spaces in which to socialize and study led to increased student demand and the creation of the student food establishments. Administrators also lauded the opportunity for student managers to develop entrepreneurial and business skills. Interviews and ethnographic research points to the networks that student managers and employees form with other students in the House as successful outcomes. In addition, video evidence from five of the food establishments indicates that the hoped-for interaction among students within the House happens fairly often, though more research throughout the course of the semester should be taken to avoid biases from the timeline of collected evidence.

soc1104_aidan_connaughton.pdf
Allison Scharmann. 12/17/2018. “Applying to Apply How College Access Programs Impact College Admissions and Adjustment Experiences for First-Generation College Students”.Abstract

According to the Pell Institute, only 11% of low-income, first-gen students complete their college degree within six years of enrolling in school vs. 55% of their non-low-income, non-first- gen peers. Increased attention to the disadvantages first-gen and low-income students face in the college admissions process has inspired the rise of college access programs, both federal and privately owned and operated, to address these challenges and help send first-gen and low-income students to college. This study builds upon previous scholarship on educational and economic mobility, as well as social and cultural capital, to analyze the impact of college access programs on the admissions and adjustment processes of first-generation college students. To understand this specifically within the context of elite institutions of higher education, this study is comprised of five personal interviews with first-generation, second-year students at Harvard College as well as a survey of 47 students, 22 of which participated in a college access program and 25 of which did not. The researcher found measurable differences between program participants and non- participants in self-assessing familial and school support, receiving essay writing assistance, and forming a social network outside of students’ own communities when applying to college. Interviews revealed that while some programs are intensive and provide exam preparation, mentorship, college essay editing, academic enrichment, leadership classes, and more, other programs simply provide a mentor or an essay editor. The level of the program’s involvement determined how students associated it. The overrepresentation in the survey data of a specific, less- involved program appeared to account for neutral survey results in categories it was initially expected to impact. The study found that gender, and gender as it intersects with income and first- gen status, may be a larger variable in understanding how first-gen, low-income students adjust to college. Interviews with students confirmed that their adjustment experiences depended on the style of program: how early it started, the resources it provided, and more. Overall this study provides insight into an area largely unresearched by academia and shows that college access programs have measurable impact, albeit dependent on their services, in the admissions and adjustment processes of first-gen and low-income students.

soc1104_allison_scharmann.pdf
Cindy Jung. 12/17/2018. “Are Humanities Students Less Employable? Student and Employer Perspectives and Recommendations for Harvard”. soc1104_cindy_jung.pdf
Liana Chow. 12/17/2018. “Challenging Conventional Assumptions about Ethnic Studies Students describe exceptional academic rigor in courses that also strongly promote belonging ”.Abstract

This paper explores Harvard students’ motivations for taking classes focused on Asian American studies, an ethnic studies discipline for which there are a few courses but no comprehensive program at Harvard. I interviewed twelve students enrolled in three Fall 2018 Asian American studies courses on their reasons for enrolling and their conception of the courses’ value in their academic, personal, and political lives, which were often impossible to separate. Interviewees perceived that their Asian American studies classes helped them develop academic and career-related skills, navigate racism, and increase their feelings of belonging at Harvard. Literary and historical content that was rigorous and “relatable” to their own lives contributed to these benefits, as did the presence of Asian American instructors and majority Asian American student bodies. This combination of factors facilitated perception-changing academic discussions in a comfortable environment and ultimately altered many interviewees’ academic pathways and expanded their views of career possibilities, students described. Especially for the Asian American interviewees, AAS classes’ dual effects of promoting feelings of belonging and furthering academic engagement facilitated each other. Most interviewees wished for more investment in ethnic studies.

James Bedford. 12/17/2018. “Compensation & Incentives for Student Administrators”.Abstract
Universities could not function without the students that work alongside administrators to manage the day-to-day running. From programming and marketing to mental health support and cleaning, these so-called ‘students administrators’ are partners in providing their own education. This paper uses quantitative and qualitative information from student administrators to assess the conditions in which they work and their attitudes to them. The research finds that beyond many on-campus roles being financially inaccessible for students from low-income backgrounds, students frequently do crucial university work without pay and when students are paid through stipends, they earn fractions of the minimum wage for their labor and feel undervalued. In students eyes, over financial remuneration, they want transcript recognition and administrative and faculty understanding for the work that they do.
soc1104_james_bedford.pdf
Cynthia Luo. 12/17/2018. “Investigating Classroom EcosySTEMs: How Diversity of STEM Teaching Staff Impacts Students”.Abstract

Despite the diverse gender, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds of Harvard students studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), the demographics of professors who teach these STEM courses are still predominantly white and male. Previous researchers and educators have shown that largely due to stereotype threat (stereotypes associated with academic outcomes of a particular race or gender), a student’s racial and gender identity directly influence their perception of ability and resulting performance in STEM fields. Additionally, educators— including at the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard—have demonstrated how inclusive teaching practices can instill in students greater confidence to achieve in the immediate classroom setting and increase their sense of belonging in STEM. However, much less is known about how the gender and racial identity of the teaching staff affects students. My research  focuses on this question: How does gender and racial diversity of teaching staff in STEM courses at Harvard affect students’ classroom experience and beyond? Through quantitative survey results, I found that students who shared either a gender or a racial background with their STEM teaching staff had an improved immediate classroom experience and felt a higher sense of belonging in that STEM department than students who did not share such a background with their STEM teaching staff. Students who shared a gender background with their professor were also more likely to view their professor as a role model. These sentiments were further explored in my interviews with students. Students felt that it was important to have STEM instructors of a shared background because they believed these instructors innately employed better teaching strategies to accommodate students of different backgrounds, were more empathetic to minority students’ struggles and increased their sense of departmental belonging, and also served as strong role models and “future selves” for students of diverse backgrounds. My results show that there is an urgent need for increasing the diversity of STEM teaching staff at Harvard: doing so improves students’ classroom experiences and sense of belonging, while prolonging such a process would be detrimental to all students.

soc1104_cynthia_luo.pdf
Ben Sorkin. 12/17/2018. “Military Matters: An Analysis of Post-Graduation Military Service Decision-Making at Harvard”. military_matters_ben_sorkin.pdf
Ekemini Ekpo. 12/17/2018. “Outside the Harvard Bubble: Study Abroad Motivations, Experiences, and Benefits ”.Abstract

The time that Harvard students spend abroad is not particularly well understood. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s reproduction theory as a starting framework, this project explores the extent to which study abroad perpetuates inequality by understanding the motivations that students have for studying abroad, the experiences that they have while abroad, the benefits they accrue from their abroad experiences, and the ways that all three of these aspects of the study abroad apparatus differ between first-generation college students at Harvard and Harvard students at large. Using publicly-available written evaluations of study abroad experiences, I captured the experiences and benefits that Harvard students, generally speaking, articulate as having gained from their study abroad experiences. Additionally, through seven semi-structured interviews, I learned about the motivations for, experiences of, and benefits to studying abroad as articulated by Harvard students who are the first in their families to attend a four-year university. Ultimately, among Harvard students generally, and even more so among first-generation students, the emergent patterns do not substantiate the hypothesis of Study Abroad as a tool primarily of class reproduction, as understood by students themselves. Ultimately, further inquiry should be dedicated to understanding a greater array of Harvard subgroups and/or the function of study abroad at other institutions.

soc1104_ekemini_ekpo.pdf
Aman Panjwani. 12/17/2018. “Radical Shifts in Higher Education: Understanding Student Willingnesses and Preferences During Financially Difficult Times”.Abstract

Harvard University, with the largest educational endowment in the world at approximately forty billion dollars, is concerned about financial stability. President Lawrence Bacow and other Harvard administrators cite two facets of higher education that may contribute to future instability: negative returns to the university endowment due to adverse market conditions and the cost of education gap, defined as the difference between the actual cost of a Harvard education (over $100,000) and the average net cost of attendance after financial aid (approximately $35,000). Nevertheless, reversing the current trend and repositioning the university to ensure financially solvent times in the future is a difficult, yet necessary task. Not only will it require concentrated and coordinated efforts to identify financial weaknesses across the institutional system, but it will require administrators to make difficult choices and changes to the very fabrics of higher education around the world. However, before reshaping the university’s central functions or financial position, it is important to consider the potential effects of such changes on students and their higher education experience. This study does this through surveys and interviews which gauge student preferences and provide insight into which Harvard College programs students would rather see cuts to in dire times. The paper also ends with a challenge to the traditional solution binary–either raise tuition or cut student programs–by garnering student feedback on alternative program structures that simultaneously allows students to affect their own environments and reduce the cost of education gap.

soc1104_aman_panjwani.pdf
Laura Kanji. 12/17/2018. “Students’ Perceptions and Experiences of Campus Mental Health”.Abstract

This concerning trend in mental health service usage indicates an urgent need to better understand the factors that influence whether students seek help for mental health issues. Rates of mental illness are rising on college campuses nationwide, but many students in need of mental health care do not receive it. Additionally, Harvard’s campus mental health services, CAMHS, has been the topic of much controversy over the past year, but it is unclear how the average Harvard student perceives CAMHS. In response to these questions, I used a qualitative, open-ended survey and supplemental interviews to explore Harvard students’ thoughts on CAMHS. Five themes characterized students’ perceptions and experiences of CAMHS: issues related to CAMHS’ lack of resources, experiences with individual counselors, CAMHS’ diversity problem, CAMHS’ short-term approach to care, and the broader system unifying CAMHS with other parts of the College. Students’ views of CAMHS were quite variable; overall, however, administrative and resource-related aspects of CAMHS emerged as highly salient barriers to help-seeking. Meanwhile, experiences with individual counselors and CAMHS’ convenient location and affordability comprised its main perceived benefits. Individual factors, such as race, sexuality, urgency of mental health concerns, and experiences of close peers, may tip the balance between these costs and benefits to determine help-seeking behavior. Overall, this project’s findings constitute a nuanced picture of students’ experiences of campus mental health services and point to several areas of improvement for CAMHS and Harvard College.

Rates of mental illness are rising on college campuses nationwide, but many students in

need of mental health care do not receive it.

Additionally, Harvard’s campus mental health services, CAMHS,

has been the topic of much controversy over the past year, but it is unclear how the average

Harvard student perceives CAMHS. In response to these questions, I used a qualitative, open-

ended survey and supplemental interviews to explore Harvard students’ thoughts on CAMHS.

Five themes characterized students’ perceptions and experiences of CAMHS: issues related to

CAMHS’ lack of resources, experiences with individual counselors, CAMHS’ diversity problem,

CAMHS’ short-term approach to care, and the broader system unifying CAMHS with other parts

of the College. Students’ views of CAMHS were quite variable; overall, however, administrative

and resource-related aspects of CAMHS emerged as highly salient barriers to help-seeking.

Meanwhile, experiences with individual counselors and CAMHS’ convenient location and

affordability comprised its main perceived benefits. Individual factors, such as race, sexuality,

urgency of mental health concerns, and experiences of close peers, may tip the balance between

these costs and benefits to determine help-seeking behavior. Overall, this project’s findings

constitute a nuanced picture of students’ experiences of campus mental health services and point

to several areas of improvement for CAMHS and Harvard College.

soc1104_laura_kanji.pdf
Alex Koller. 12/17/2018. “Uncovering the Student Artist Black Box Pathways & Motivations of Performers at Harvard”.Abstract

Harvard College brings together students of all backgrounds and interests to its campus. For performing arts students, artistic organizations and groups provide them with myriad opportunities. This paper examined whether students in the performing arts have agency to shape the course of their college journey, or if internal and external factors play a role in limiting their freedom to invest themselves in other pursuits outside of their discipline. This study is composed of eleven interviews with freshman and senior performing artists at Harvard. The research found that while academic, social, and non-artistic pursuits varied among the sample, all of the interviewees perceived an internal desire to continue performing as their primary motivator. While the time-constraints of the performing arts often inhibit their ability to explore other opportunities on campus, the subjects emphasized that it was their active choice to make these sacrifices, and many demonstrated that other pursuits could be balanced with the arts as well. Overall, this study confirmed the agency of student artists and the presence of a performing arts pathway bringing together otherwise dissimilar students.

uncovering_the_student_artist_black_box.pdf
Simon Handreke. 12/17/2018. “Visiting Students’ Perception of Course Experience at Harvard College and their Home Institution ”.Abstract

The research paper investigates visiting students’ perception of course experience at their home institution – the University of St. Gallen – and their host institution – Harvard College, compared to their peers at the home and host institution respectively. First, individuals were surveyed to state their priorities of different factors of course experience. The analysis of the differences in responses between groups gives strong evidence that students’ priorities for the evaluation of course experience differ conditional on institutional exposure. Also, the analysis suggests an acculturation process of exchange students, in which they adapt their priorities according to which they evaluate experiences to the ones of their host peers. Second, individuals were surveyed to state their evaluation of course experience at both institutions. The analysis of the different responses between groups suggests that visiting students’ perceptions of course experience is conditional on their exposure to both institutional environments. This gives evidence that exchange students – who were exposed to two institutional environments – are in a unique position to compare institutions, experience quality in a relative and comparative manner, and ultimately adapt their perceptions of their home and host institutions respectively. With respect to both parts of the analysis, the data suggests that the processes of acculturation and relative perception do not follow simple logics but are dependent on the individual experience made with respect to different factors of course experience in different institutional contexts.

soc1104_simon_handreke.pdf

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