Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

TRIO: The Unwritten Legacy

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

TRIO: The Unwritten Legacy

Article excerpt

In this article, the authors argue for and operationalize the adoption of auto-ethnographic research methods to explore the impact of TRIO participation on the development of social, political, and professional capacities among educators who have been students and staff members of the programs. They invite the reader on a journey of reacquaintance with their individual educational histories, presented in the form of a textual collage. Through these reflections, they explore the intersections of cultural and racial/ethnic identity and discuss the implications of understanding such histories and identities for the administration of TRIO programs today.

... the future of educational research- . a greater role for imagination, a greater reliance on metaphorical thinking, and a greater openness to the visions of human possibility opened by our artists in the present and the past. (Greene, 1998, p. 35)

... the possibilities of storytelling are precisely those of understanding the human experience. (Momaday, cited in Fischer, 1986, p. 225)

The federal TRIO programs have been studied from multiple angles with various research methodologies since the inception of the earliest TRIO initiatives in the 1960s. For example, many articles published in scholarly journals have focused on the practices and outcomes of TRIO's largest and longest-running program, Upward Bound (Billings, 1968; Butler & Gipson, 1975; Bybee, 1969; Dottin, Linton, & Roberts, 1981; Egeland, Hunt, & Hardt, 1970; Exum & Young, 1981; Frost, 1967; Garns, 1971; Gill, 1969; Helyar, 1977; Herson, 1968; Joseph, 1968; Lewenstein, 1974; McCormick & Williams, 1974; Mims, 1985). The literature on Upward Bound also includes numerous doctoral dissertations (Allen, 1975; Bemak, 1976; B. Brown, 1976; J. Brown, 1993; Burris, 1969; Coron, 1969; Dease, 1979; Dixon, 1982; Ehrbright, 1969; Farrow, 1976; Geisler, 1968; Hattman, 1974; Hollis, 1974; Jackson, 1976; James, 1979; Jawa, 1969; Jones, 1991; Lewis, 1982; McCormick, 1971; Moore, 1974; Mullins, 1974; Nash, 1974; Palmer, 1979; Powe, 1990; Richardson, 1974; Roland, 1981; Seehe-Fields, 1972; Slaughter, 1983; Smith, 1967; Stewart, 1978; Thompson, 1973; Waite, 1968; White, 1991; Young, 1973). Additionally, many evaluation studies of Upward Bound have been commissioned and conducted (Burkheimer, French, Levinsohn, & Riccobono, 1977; Greenleigh Associates, 1970; MacKenzie, 1983; Moore, Fasciano, Jacobson, Myers, & Waldman, 1997).

This literature, though dominated by quantitative research addressing student outcomes, offers some qualitative research addressing the TRIO programs' structure, operations, and student outcomes. What is absent, however, is auto-ethnographic research such as that described by Denzin (1997a), Ellis (1996), Ellis and Bochner (1996), Thompson and Sageeta (1996), White and Shelley (1996), and White, Mogilka, and Slack (1998). Arguably, this methodology could be used to address the impact of TRIO programs on the future professional lives of educators who have been students and staff members in the programs.1 The absence of this type of research is understandable, given that the dominance of Eurocentric and positivist research paradigms has only recently been sufficiently challenged and interrupted to encourage experimentation with novel methodologies (for examples, see Eisner, 1997; Scheurich & Young, 1997; Tyson, 1998).

Auto-ethnographic research underscores the crucial need for individuals to write their own histories. As Lincoln (1983) explains, the "word sender" or storyteller/historian fulfills this role in Native American cultures. He notes that by characterizing the people's collective reality-"tonaliz[ing], lighten[ing], spiritualiz[ing], brighten[ing], and darken[ing] [their] experience, all the while working with the reality that is" (p. 223)-- word senders strive to create a "living story [with] the personal inflection embodied and embraced in communal history" (p. …

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