Abarca M., E. (2018) Is access to higher education enough in the Chilean context? Exploring underrepresented students' identities through literacy. Presented at Literary Research Association Conference 2018
In Chile, enrollment participation of the lowest quintiles in higher education is as low as
27.4%, contrasted with 62.7% for the highest quintile (Brunner & Miranda, 2016). There
have been important educational reforms in Chile that have aimed at providing quality
secondary and higher education for students and ensuring access to everyone. However,
vocational high school students have not been able to take advantage of these reforms
because reforms have only focused on academic-track programs and students. The EDT, a
college preparatory program, was created to help tackle this issue and provide a way for
vocational high school students to access higher education.
The aim of this study is to better understand the experiences of two students, Pedro and
Andrés, in higher education after having attended a college prep program in Chile for lowincome,
vocational high school students who might not otherwise enroll in college. This
study focuses on how Pedro and Andrés’ literacies enact different identities in different
domains in the college prep program, in their concurrent university courses, and in their
personal lives. Furthermore, this study intends to shed light on possible conflicts between
domains and identities, as well as on issues of access, power, and equity shaping the
academic and literate identities of underrepresented students.
More specifically, this study aimed at answering the following research questions:
(1) What are the literacy events and practices of the students in each domain: college-prep
program, university, and personal lives?
(2) What academic and other identities are associated with the different domains and
(3) How do participants view the relationship between these literacy practices, identities and
issues of access, power, and equity?