Encouraging teachers to engage first-generation
As a child, Laura Rendón watched her mother work three jobs to help her family survive. She vowed that she didn’t want to have to do the same. This motivation and her experiences in education growing up in Laredo as a minority woman have inspired her research on first-generation college students and the factors that promote and impede student success.
“A holistic approach to education that encourages contemplative engagement as well as critical thinking and problem solving can really benefit low-income and first-generation students.”
- Laura Rendón
A nationally recognized expert, Rendón came to UTSA in 2010 to continue her research in an environment where she is surrounded daily by students who know the same kinds of challenges she has overcome. At UTSA, she has worked with colleagues to establish and co-direct the Center for Research and Policy in Education in the College of Education and Human Development. The center’s work informs the educational community about critical factors that affect the academic success of key student groups. Leaders across the country consult Rendón to understand how best to serve students from diverse backgrounds including low-income students who are first in their families to attend college.
Rendón’s own published work promotes a sensing/thinking pedagogy that encourages teachers to embrace diverse ways of learning and civic engagement. Rendón advocates that, “a holistic approach to education that encourages contemplative engagement as well as critical thinking and problem solving can really benefit low-income and first-generation students. If we approach the teaching and education environment in a detached way, then these students may not engage fully in learning,” she says.
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