I found through a lot of my studies that there are these students who have all the earmarks for being failures. They have low SAT scores, may not have the best GPAs, they weren't in all the right clubs while they were in high school, and they even may get placed into a remedial course; however, these students persist on to graduation, even while students who have stronger profiles fail to persist all the way to graduation. So I'm really interested in understanding how and why these students whose admission profiles seem to indicate they won't have a chance to succeed, trying to figure out why they do succeed.
- Hansel Burley
Developmental education (remediation) in higher education has been my central research interest. Of late, I have studied the Theory of Planned Behavior and resilience and how they relate to struggling students completing bachelor’s degrees.
I have learned that students who struggle with basic academics in college is a common theme worldwide. In nearly all countries, an education beyond high school is incredibly precious and rare; competition for it is fierce. Most cannot afford to lose talent, so the American idea of providing remedial help beyond high school is a new one.
My research indicates that students with the right profile who are given some help while in college can be resilient to institution’s first assessments that the student may not succeed in college. This is good news for higher education around the globe. Providing extra support is a good investment.
My parents, children, and former teachers inspire me a good deal.
I love working with children. I enjoyed working as principal investigator for a technology-based mentoring program at a local middle school. I have also served as principle investigator with an early literacy project called Jumpstart that employs TTU students as reading mentors for pre-K children.
Currently, I’m working as an administrator, so my projects are much more focused on TTU. One project involves evaluating and improving the multicultural/global societies’ core curriculum courses that undergraduates take. I am also pushing for electronic forms to replace much of the paper forms we use here to conduct student business and advising. Finally, I am completing a book on institutional research, which is a special brand of higher education research that focuses on helping colleges and universities become more effective.
To be successful, first one’s research should fuel teaching and service. After that, I found a dynamism took hold where my service would spark funding opportunities that kept my research moving and inspired my teaching (or in various combinations). I have tried to follow where this takes me, rather than force a direction. For example, the middle school technology program I mentioned above had as one of its goals helping primarily Latino 8th graders get on a college-bound track. Working with these children helped me offer a one-time seminar on urban education. That course involved looking at large-scale government databases to better understand why students fail to attend college or fail when they get there. My TTU students and I found many students who defy the stereotypical labels attached to urban minority youth. We found resilience. The circle of my integrated scholarship was complete.