Study will examine inequalities in higher education among Hmong Americans


Four people with ties to the UW–Madison School of Education are leading a project to further understand and reduce inequalities in higher education among Hmong Americans. The project is one of 15 chosen to receive grants through the through UW–Madison’s Understanding and Reducing Inequalities Initiative.

Matthew Hora et al
Hora (upper left), Lee, Smolarek, and Wolfgram

The project, titled “Understanding and reducing inequalities in higher education: Lessons from Hmong American college student-engaged participatory action research,” is led by Matthew Hora, the director of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT), housed in the School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER).

It is co-led by Stacey Lee, the Frederick Erickson WARF Professor of Educational Policy Studies in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, and Bailey Smolarek and Matthew Wolfgram, both associate researchers at WCER.

The researchers aim to obtain a more grounded understanding of the factors influencing the success and well-being of Hmong American students at UW–Madison. To this end, they will engage Hmong American students at UW–Madison in a qualitative community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) project.

“College student-engaged CBPAR (Arman et al., 2020) involves collaboration between academic researchers and minoritized college students to understand and address their concerns and experiences,” explains the project description. “Students are mentored to be researchers and lead the development of research questions, design, and analysis.”

The study will investigate mechanisms that produce higher education inequalities for Hmong American students, and engage in what the researchers call “counter-invisibility work” to report on findings that support advocacy for specific policy changes.

Learn more about this project.