Scaling success for low-income, first-generation in college, and/or racially minoritized students through a culture of ecological validation

Kezar et al. / Journal of Diversity in Higher Education / April 2022

Drawing from a 5-year mixed methods study of the Thompson Scholar Learning Community (TSLC), the authors discuss how holistic, proactive, strengthens-oriented, identity conscious, collaborative and reflective norms create a culture of ecological validation wherein at-promise students can experience college success. These norms were then operationalized through the program structures and processes (leadership, socialization, language, space, and communication, ritual and traditions, working relationships and interactions) embedding them into the work of faculty, staff, and administrators. Our study provides empirical evidence of how a culture of ecological validation can provide scaled support for at-promise students. Lastly, this article contributes to the literature by combining three key concepts that have not been explored together—validation theory, college success cultures, and ecological systems theory focused on at-promise students.