Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Deborah Faye Carter

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Angela Mosi Locks

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gilda Laura Ochoa

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Rocío Mendoza


College student retention, Critical Race Theory, Higher education, LatCrit, Latinx, Undergraduate reserach

Subject Categories

Higher Education


While scholars have established the long-lasting academic and social benefits of undergraduate research, less is known about the research experiences and outcomes of specific student populations. The aim of this study was to address this limitation in the literature by exploring the undergraduate research experiences of students of Mexican descent at a public, broad-access institution. Through a case study approach, this study took place at a broad-access, baccalaureate-granting, teaching institution with a Hispanic Serving Institution federal designation. Data for this study were drawn from campus interviews with 21 participants, including: 10 students, nine faculty research mentors and two staff members associated with a centralized undergraduate research office. Additional data included campus institutional research reports and observations of research-related activities (such as classes, symposiums and workshops). This study found that students’ identities and social contexts shaped the ways in which they navigated the institution and the topics they researched to improve the social conditions of their communities. Faculty research mentors, who shared similar social identities as students, also looked beyond the often-used metrics of individual GPAs and tests scores and instead sought to work with students who had the commitment and passion for the research topic. In this way, faculty research mentors valued the raced and gendered epistemologies of students as valid forms of knowledge (Delgado Bernal, 2002). It also seemed that faculty benefitted from the fellowship and camaraderie created in the research space. These findings suggest that faculty of color can similarly benefit from research collaborations with students and may also help to address the racial isolation often experienced by faculty, which can ultimately help to retain faculty of color in academia. The institutional context also played an important role in how it promoted, and at times, constrained the expansion of research opportunities, particularly for students of color. Implications and recommendations for research, theory, policy and practice are discussed that highlight the pedagogical value of undergraduate research, which is a far more valuable practice that can and should be broadened in classrooms and programs, and not be limited to only those who meet the often-used metrics of academic success.