Educ 309: Race Class and Educational Policy

Syllabus for Fall 2019


In this upper-level undergraduate seminar, our primary goal is to work as a team to strengthen our skills in basic qualitative and quantitative research on race, class, and educational policy. We will closely read studies by other authors, then design and conduct our own small-scale research projects, and publicly present our findings. Our theme for Fall 2019 is “Researching Trinity and Hartford.”

Our Research Projects

We will conduct interviews with a stratified random sample of Trinity students to ask:

  1. How do perceptions and experiences of Hartford vary among first-year Trinity students of different racial, social class, and gender backgrounds?

  2. How do perceptions and experiences of race and social class at Trinity vary among first-year students of different backgrounds?

  3. How do perceptions and experiences of the Community Action Gateway students (a non-random self-selected sample) compare to our stratified random sample of other first-year students?

In addition, for the Community Learning component of this course, we will attend Hartford neighborhood group meetings to share the results of a recent door-to-door survey on how community residents perceive and experience Trinity College, and listen to how participants respond to this study.


Students must bring a copy of this book, print or digital, for a close reading of the text in class and discussion with the author:

Anthony Abraham Jack, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students (Harvard University Press, 2019),

Photocopies of additional readings will be made available to students for $10 fee.

Each student must bring a laptop to each class session for writing, editing, and data analysis. Contact me if you need to borrow a spare laptop.


Tues Sept 3

  • Introduction to syllabus and our research projects
  • Review Trinity Institutional Review Board (IRB) for research ethics Instructor will complete one IRB application for the class research project, listing each student as a researcher.
  • Complete CITI online research ethics training, if you have not already done so, and email me certificate by Sunday Sept 7th. See detailed instructions and follow option A or B, but A is preferable for future research you may conduct.
  • Write short essay 0 and submit for blind review (practice): Why are you here, and what do you wish to learn? Do NOT include your name anywhere in the file, so that I may evaluate your work anonymously. Save your essay in MS Word format, insert your favorite cartoon character (instead of your ID) into the filename (example: Tweetybird-essay0.docx), and upload your responses for blind review to

Thur Sept 5

Tues Sept 10: How Do We Define Race and Social Class?

Thur Sept 12: How Have Others Researched Race and Class at Trinity?

  • Read how students in my students in my “Color and Money” First-Year Seminar on Race and Social Class at Trinity College conducted this Sophomore Interview Project in Fall 2011, 2013, 2015. What ideas does it spark in your minds about how we will conduct our study?
  • Read and reflect on anonymous responses to short essay #0: Why are you here, and what do you wish to learn?
  • Assign: Write short essay #1, no more than 500 words, and submit for blind review by Sunday Sept 15th 6pm. Do NOT include your name anywhere in the file, so that I may evaluate your work anonymously. Save your essay in MS Word format, insert your Trinity ID number into the filename (example: 1234567-essay1.docx), and upload your responses for blind review to
    • Imagine a room with all of the people above who are defining and discussing race and/or social class. What kinds of conversations might they have? How would you imagine some of them agreeing or disagreeing with one another? Write an essay that clearly demonstrates your understanding of at least 3 of the 4 authors: Omi & Winant, Kendi, Sanneh, Lareau. Make sure you clearly show your understanding of at least one of their major points, and support it with at least one quote for each author.
    • For this assignment, you can simply insert parentheses and page numbers, with no formal bibliography. Example…. According to Kendi, “…….” (p.5).
    • You can choose to write a traditional expository essay For sentence starters, see the
    • OR you can write in dialogue format, like a play.
      • Example: Ibram, Kelef,and Annette walk into a bar…..
        • Annette: Hey, Ibram, I’ve been meaning to ask you, “….[insert quote….” (p. 67)

Tues Sept 17: How Did Anthony Jack Research Race and Class?

Thur Sept 19: How Does The Privileged Poor Connect with Trinity

Tues Sept 24: How Will We Research Trinity Students on Hartford?

Thur Sept 26: How Does Trinity Respond to Anthony Jack and Bettina Gonzalez?

Tues Oct 1: Finalize and Launch our Interview Study

  • Finalize our interview guide
  • Practice consent script, asking questions, and recording audio with classmates
  • How to record audio interviews and maintain individual privacy
  • Practice uploading audio to your computer AND to the instructor
  • Assign 3 interviews and completed transcripts by end of Trinity Days, Oct 15th.

Thur Oct 3: Interview Update; How Do Hartford Residents View Trinity?

Tues Oct 8: How to Transcribe, Mask, and Start Looking for Themes Across Interviews

  • See our Educ 309 Interview Coding Sheet
  • Work on conducting your 3 interviews, and cleaning up and masking private info in transcripts, before Tues Oct 15th
    • Upload audio files with name & number (e.g. Jack1.mp3) for automated Trint transcribing
    • After you’ve uploaded one interview, email me right away to request your next interview.
    • If you do not contact FY students in a timely manner, they may not be available for interviews before Trinity Days
    • Instructor will email you the rough transcript for you to clean up and mask any individually-identifiable details, as described in How to Digitally Record and Transcribe Interviews
    • Upload your clean & masked interviews, with name & number & pseudonym (e.g. Jack1-Tom.docx) to

Thur Oct 10: Interview Coding Categories

  • Update on interviews, transcripts, and coding categories
  • See our Educ 309 Interview Coding Sheet
  • See our current set of clean & masked transcripts in Moodle
  • See 3rd research question about Community Action Gateway at top of syllabus
  • Learn about Hartford Neighborhood Revitalization Zones (NRZs)
  • Assign short essay #4: Attend one of the NRZ or campus meetings below, listen to me and/or Megan Brown present the Community Resident Survey, and listen and write down how attendees responded, without using their names unless they request it. About 300 words. Email to me with your name within 48 hours after the event:
    • Tues Oct 15th meeting begins at 5:30pm, our section begins at 6pm: Frog Hollow NRZ, 70 Vernon St, with students Eleanor, Elizabeth Densen, Rafael
    • Friday Oct 25th at 12-1pm, McCook 201 conference room, with students Miley
    • Tues Nov 12th at 6pm, Southwest/Behind the Rocks NRZ, Free Center, 460 New Britain Ave, with students Clare, Elizabeth Daly, Mabel, Caila, Meghan
    • Thur Nov 14th at 6pm, Maple Ave NRZ, St. Augustine Church, 10 Campfield Ave, with students __

Tues Oct 15

  • No class: Trinity Day
  • Work on completing 3 interviews and writing transcripts before the end of the day

Thur Oct 17: How to Interpret Patterns Across Multiple Interviews

Tues Oct 22: Making Persuasive Arguments with Supporting Evidence

  • Evaluating Essay 5 paragraphs
    • Which paragraphs are most insightful?
    • Which paragraphs are most persuasive?
  • Preparing our Ed 309 presentation slides
    • Goal: one insightful claim per slide
    • Everyone will have a speaking role; work together if desired
    • Which claims should we present in the slides?
    • What additional claims do you want help from the class to investigate?
  • workshop in class

Thur Oct 24: Refining our claims and evidence

Tues Oct 29: Preparing our presentation

Thur Oct 31: Presenting our findings

  • Public presentation in McCook 200 conference room of our research presentation slides
    • Instructor available at 11am for any last-minute discussions
    • Group practice at 11:30am
    • Presentation during Common Hour 12:15-1:15pm, with light lunch and homemade cookies.
  • Guest evaluators from Educational Studies will score your solo/duo presentations based on two criteria: How insightful is the claim and interpretation? How persuasive is the evidence? See presentation evaluation form. Worth 10 points.

Tues Nov 5

  • Read: Paul Tough, “What College Admissions Offices Really Want,” The New York Times, September 10, 2019, sec. Magazine,
  • Assign short essay #6 to nominate new readings and discussion questions for late Nov/early Dec. Due via email by Sun Nov 10th at 6pm.
  • Assign reading and discussion facilitators for Nov 12 & 14
  • Update on Short Essay #4: Responses to the “Trinity’s Relationship with the Neighborhood” Report. Attend public event where Megan Brown presents the Report, and listen and write down how attendees respond, without using their names unless they request it. About 300 words. Email to me with your name within 48 hours after the event:
    • Tues Oct 15th Frog Hollow NRZ meeting (attended by Rafael, Eleanor, Elizabeth Densen)
    • Finalize assignments for upcoming NRZ or campus meetings below,
    • Friday Oct 25th McCook 201 conference room (attended by Miley)
    • Tues Nov 12th at 6pm, Southwest/Behind the Rocks NRZ, Free Center, 460 New Britain Ave, with students: Clare, Elizabeth Daly, Mabel, Alysia, Caila, Amber; Jack will provide transportation if needed
    • Thur Nov 14th at 6pm, Maple Ave NRZ, St. Augustine Church, 10 Campfield Ave, with students TBA; Jack will provide transportation if needed
    • choose a date above: Meghan
  • Common Hour event in Washington Room: “Social Mobility Through Education: A Conversation with Paul Tough, Author of The Years that Matter Most

Thur Nov 7

  • No class: Instructor at conference in Washington DC. (In place of this class, students meet for dinner at instructor’s home in September, and attend NRZ or campus meeting in Oct/Nov.)
  • Begin reading Jack Dougherty and contributors, On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs (Book-in-progress, under contract with Amherst College Press),

Tues Nov 12: How have race and wealth barriers evolved in metropolitan Hartford over time?

  • On The Line discussion facilitators
  • Preface and Chapter 1 intro by Elizabeth Densen
  • Chapter 2.1 on richest city by Clare, Elizabeth Daly
  • Chapter 3.1 on federal lending by Rafael
  • Chapter 3.2 on restrictive covenants by Amber
  • Chapter 3.3 on public housing by Miley, Mabel
  • Assign short essay #7: Submit your anonymous constructive criticism on On The Line book-in-progress. What is working well so far? What areas should be improved? About 300 words. Due by Sunday Nov 17th at 6pm. Upload with NO NAME OR ID to remain anonymous
  • TONIGHT, if you want a ride, meet at Mather Circle at 5:50pm. Southwest/Behind the Rocks NRZ meeting begins at 6pm, at the Free Center (former Goodwin Library), 460 New Britain Ave, with students: Clare, Elizabeth Daly, Mabel, Alysia, Caila, Amber. Listen and write down how attendees respond to report, without using their names unless they request it. About 300 words. Email to me with your name within 48 hours after the event.

Thur Nov 14: How have activists challenged metro Hartford housing and schooling barriers over time?

Tues Nov 19

Thur Nov 21

Tues Nov 26

Thur Nov 28

  • No class: Thanksgiving

Tues Dec 3

Thur Dec 5


Students may access their individual scores on the password-protected Moodle site Your work will be evaluated based on:

  • Short essays on readings, no more than 500 words: 7 x 5 each = 35 points
  • Transcripts of assigned student interviews: 3 x 3.33 each = 10 points
  • Role in research presentation, evaluated by guest = 10 points
  • Individual essay on interpreting patterns across interviews, no more than 2000 words = 20 points
  • Individual future research proposal or grad school statement, under 1500 words = 15 points
  • Peer evaluation of overall contribution to learning = 10 points

Total = 100 points

Late assignments will receive a 10 percent penalty for every 12 hours overdue, with exceptions granted only for verified medical or family emergencies. In this course, unsatisfactory work (below 70%) falls in the D or F range, adequate work (70-79%) in the C range, good work (80-89%) in the B range, and outstanding work (90 to 100%) in the A range. Each range is divided into equal thirds for minus (-), regular, and plus (+) letter grades. For example, 80 to 83.33% = B-, 83.34 to 86.67 = B, and 86.68 to 89.99 = B+. Students are expected to engage in academic honesty in all forms of work for this course. You are responsible for understanding and following the Intellectual Honesty policy (around page 20) of the Trinity Student Handbook.

Trinity College is committed to creating an inclusive and accessible learning environment consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you have approval for academic accommodations, please notify faculty during the first two weeks of the semester or a minimum of 10 days prior to needing your accommodations. Please be sure to meet with me privately to discuss implementation. If you do not have approved accommodations, but have a disability requiring academic accommodations, or have questions about applying, please contact Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accessibility Resources at 860-297-4025 or at

Please notify me during the first week of the course if you require any scheduling accommodations for religious observances.