Ph.D. in Education, 2014
School of Education
March 1, 2011
“My goal is to inform the practices of school counselors as a means of ultimately increasing the number of students, particularly ethnic minority students, attending college.”
Chenoa Woods is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Education with a specialization in Educational Policy and Social Context. She comes to UCI with a background in psychology, earning her Bachelor’s degree from Long Beach State in 2006. She continued at CSULB, earning her Masters of Science and Pupil Personnel Services credential in school counseling in 2009. Supported by the Center for Community Engagement, she was the graduate assistant for homeless education and worked closely with Leann Mora, MSW, at Bethune Transitional Center in Long Beach Unified School District. There she provided counseling services to students designated as homeless or in transitional housing, many of whom performed below grade level or had years of schooling missing from their transcripts.
During her tenure at CSULB, Chenoa grew increasingly interested in college access, the college choice process, and how counselors affect students’ educational trajectories. Her in-class experiences learning about unequal access to quality school counseling and her fieldwork placements as a school counselor-in-training led her to question current counseling practices for low-income students and students of color.
Once at UCI, Chenoa was introduced to the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), a national dataset. Under the direction of Assistant Professor Thurston Domina, Chenoa examined the relationship between the student-to-counselor ratio and talking to school counselors for her first year poster.
The results suggested that students at schools with few students per counselor and students at schools with many students per counselor were more likely to talk to their counselors about college than were students at schools with more moderate student-to-counselor ratios. I also found that students’ talking to a school counselor significantly increased students’ likelihood of taking the SAT or an Advanced Placement test by twelfth grade.
Chenoa plans to continue similar work with future waves of the ELS to examine the relationships between counselors and students’ college attendance patterns.
As a graduate student researcher, Chenoa worked with Assistant Professor Estela Zarate exploring the landscape of college access and preparation programs in the Southern California area. She developed her qualitative research skills by interviewing directors of participating college access programs to determine the content of their program, their evaluation practices, and their relationships with schools and districts.
This project has sparked my new interest in college preparation programs, and I plan to continue work in this area in the future.
Chenoa has recently begun a new project looking at application, admission, and enrollment data of the University of California. Working with Dr. Zarate, Chenoa is anticipating finding patterns for students of color at the various UC campuses.
Preliminary findings suggest than the increase in the Latino school-age population does not translate to a proportional increase in the number of Latino UC applicants.
Chenoa plans to further explore the data by comparing students who are eligible to apply to the UC campuses with those who indeed apply, are admitted, and ultimately enroll.
Chenoa is preparing to pilot a study comparing the college counseling practices of public and private high school counselors and independent educational consultants. She plans to survey, interview, and observe participants working with students during their college preparation process. She is expecting to find differences of both quality and quantity for counselors in various pre-college counseling settings.
Having been a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Education for several courses, Chenoa has gained experience being in the classroom. She enjoys the mentoring aspect of the TA position, especially when students approach her about their plans for the future. Chenoa currently serves as a Community Assistant in the Vista del Campo Norte housing community on campus. This opportunity has allowed her to get to know the UCI campus and work with undergraduate and graduate students alike.
In the future, I hope to inform the practices of school counselors as a means of ultimately increasing the number of students, particularly ethnic minority students, attending college. I believe that with the right amount of institutional support and structure, school counselors and college preparation personnel can positively influence the educational trajectories of all students.