1st Edition

Bandwidth Recovery Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization

By Cia Verschelden Copyright 2017
    170 Pages
    by Routledge

    170 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book argues that the cognitive resources for learning of over half our young people have been diminished by the negative effects of economic insecurity, discrimination and hostility against non-majority groups based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and other aspects of difference.

    Recognizing that these students are no different than their peers in terms of cognitive capacity, this book offers a set of strategies and interventions to rebuild the available cognitive resources necessary to succeed in college and reach their full potential.Members of these groups systematically experience conditions in their lives that result in chronic stress and, therefore, decreased physical and mental health and social and economic opportunity. The costs of the many kinds of scarcity in their lives – money, health, respect, safety, affirmation, choices, belonging – is seriously reduced “mental bandwidth,” the cognitive and emotional resources needed to deal with making good decisions, learning, healthy relationships, and more. People who are operating with depleted mental bandwidth are less able to succeed in school, starting in childhood, and are much less likely to make it to college. For those who do make it, their bandwidth capacity often interferes with learning, and therefore, persisting and graduating from college. This book presents variety of evidence-based interventions that have been shown, through implementation in high schools and colleges, to help students to regain bandwidth. They are variously intended for application inside and outside the classroom and address not only cognitive processes but also social-psychological, non-cognitive factors that are relevant to the college environment as a whole.

    Beginning with an analysis of the impacts on mental and physical health and cognitive capacity, of poverty, racism, and other forms of social marginalization, Cia Verschelden presents strategies for promoting a growth mindset and self-efficacy, for developing supports that build upon students’ values and prior knowledge and for creating learning environments both in and out of the classroom so students can feel a sense of belonging and community. She addresses issues of stereotyping and exclusion and discusses institutional structures and processes that create identity-safe rather than identity-threat learning environment.

    This book is intended for faculty, student affairs professionals, and college and university administrators, all of whom have an interest in creating learning environments where all students have a chance to succeed.

    Foreword by Lynn Pasquerrella Preface Acknowledgments Introduction Part One. The Costs of Racism, Poverty, and Social Marginalization 1. Physical Health 2. Mental Health 3. Human Capacity 4. Loss of Cognitive Resources and Bandwidth. Scarcity Part Two. Sociopsychological Underminers 5. Microaggressions and “Modern Racism” 6. Stereotype Threat 7. Disidentification With Academic Self 8. Belongingness Uncertainty 9. Focus on LGBT Students Part Three. Interventions that Mitigate the Negative Effects of Poverty and the Underminers 10. Growth Mind-Set 11. Belonging 12. Decreasing Stereotype Threat and Identity Threat 13. Institutional Structures and Processes 14. Case Study. Georgia State University Conclusion References About the Author Index


    Cia Verschelden has worked in higher education for over three decades. A residence hall director during her doctoral research, she has also served as a faculty member in social work, sociology, women’s studies, American ethnic studies, and nonviolence studies. She is currently the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Malcolm X College in Chicago. Her research and writing related to equity in educational opportunity led to publication of her bestselling book, directed at faculty, student affairs, and administrators in higher education, Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization. She has applied the same concept to the preK-12 context in Bandwidth Recovery for Schools: Helping Pre-K-12 Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Trauma, Racism, and Social Marginalization. Verschelden holds a BS in psychology from Kansas State University, an MSW from the University of Connecticut, and an EdD from Harvard University.

    "Although other researchers have explored the debilitating effects of racism and poverty on college students’ ability to succeed, Cia Verschelden's novel perspective invigorates this discussion first by uniquely employing the technological analogy of bandwidth, to make the multiple consequences of cognitive deprivation more vividly understandable than other analyses of these issues. She then infuses her book with numerous practical interventions – from 'Neurobic' mental exercises to using Pecha Kucha in the classroom – that readers can use to enhance cognitive ability and academic aptitude of their own students."

    Michael J. Cuyjet, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, University of Louisville

    "Bandwidth Recovery is a well-written, insightful must-read book that offers educators and counselors who work with socially marginalized youth to develop functional strategies for promoting a growth mindset and self-efficacy to increase learning capacity in and out of the classroom."

    Joseph L. White, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine

    “Verschelden convincingly makes the case that many lower income and minority students struggle in college not because of lower ability or poor preparation, but because they deal with life situations that deplete cognitive resources that are needed for learning. Offering us a distinctly different lens through which to view these students, she describes concrete strategies we can implement to replenish their cognitive resources so that they don’t just survive, but thrive in the college environment with recovered ‘bandwidth’.”

    Saundra McGuire, (Ret.) Assistant Vice Chancellor & Professor of Chemistry; Director Emerita, Center for Academic Success, Louisiana State University; Author of Teach Students How to Learn

    “Verschelden effectively immerses readers in and thereby sensitizes them to the array of economic; social; and physical, mental, and emotional realities that persistently drain non-majority and socially marginalized students’ cognitive capacities to learn. Most important, she teaches us how to recover their capacities to become successful students. Projections of our national demographics document growth in non-majority and low income populations. Unquestionably, then, Bandwidth Recovery is a timely, essential, and uplifting read for faculty and other contributors to student learning, assisting them to draw out those students’ potential for success.”

    Peggy L. Maki, Education Consultant Specializing in Assessing Student Learning

    “Bandwidth Recovery provides a roadmap for reversing the current trend, whereby only one in two high school students from low-income families enrolls in college in the first place, and the completion rate for those at the lowest socioeconomic rungs continues to lag far behind their wealthier peers. By drawing attention to the persistent economic and cultural barriers that continue to thwart the equity imperative upon which the American Dream is built, Verschelden brings us closer to being able to fulfill the true promise of American higher education—that of educating for democracy.”

    Lynn Pasquerella, President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities