The Role of Ethnicity on the Progress of Students in the Workforce Opportunity Services Program

Open Access
Badillo, Sophia Mercedes
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Charles C Snow, Thesis Supervisor
  • Barbara Louise Gray, Faculty Reader
  • workforce training programs
  • continuing education
  • workplace literacy
  • reflection-with-action methods of teaching
  • effects of ethnicity on workplace literacy
  • maslow's hierarchy of needs
This research was conducted to determine what impact ethnicity has on the progress of students enrolled in a continuing education Information Technology program offered by Workforce Opportunity Services currently taught at three universities: Columbia University, Rutgers University, and University of Akron. Focus was placed on determining what, if any, differences could be discerned among Black/African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian students who can be classified as low-income youth or military veterans. Students enrolled in the Workforce Opportunity Services program are low-income students who may not have otherwise had an opportunity to gain an understanding of the IT field and learn how to become successful within that market. I individually coded students’ journals to evaluate their progress during the program in terms of how each journal reflected certain characteristics of labor market literacy using a Literacy Arc created by Dr. Arthur M. Langer of Columbia University. The Arc is made up five stages (Concept Recognition, Multiple Workplace Perspectives, Comprehension of Business Process, Workplace Competence, and Professional Independence) which each contain six sectors of literacy (Cognitive, Technology, Business Culture, Socio-Economic, Community and Ethnic Solidarity, and Self-Esteem) (Langer, 2003). The Arc is a model of five developmental stages that increase in cognitive complexity in order to evaluate the students’ cognitive, technological, business culture, social, and self-awareness literacies. I found that, within the study population, a majority of the students demonstrated similar progression through the literacy model. Based on the information provided, teachers should be able to utilize this data to configure their teaching strategies to enhance the learning experiences of the subject groups.