16 Oct 2011

learning about student homelessness

Research No Comments

Studies that employ longitudinal, mixed-method designs have particular promise for cultivating deep and authentic understandings of students’ experiences before and after periods of homelessness. Most empirical studies in the field to date have used quantitative measures to learn about issues such as student achievement, psychosocial perceptions, and physical/emotional health at specific points in time and, while such work is highly relevant and should continue to be pursued, it can be accompanied by qualitative efforts. Specifically of note would be designs that incorporate multi-site (shelters, agencies, schools, neighborhoods, etc.) ethnographic inquiry that tracks students’ and families’ school-related experiences for extended periods of time—including phases of transition from homelessness into permanent housing. Given the relative paucity of rigorous qualitative research into issues of education in contexts of homelessness and the general lack of understanding about “post-homelessness” effects and experiences, such efforts applied over extended periods of time could engender increased comfort and trust among researchers and participants and could advance the field significantly.

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