An Ecology of Validation: Structuring Opportunities to Validate Students in a Comprehensive College Transition Program

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Conference Title

American Educational Research Association


San Francisco, CA

Date of Presentation



This study examines the underlying mechanism driving student success in a comprehensive college transition program that serves low-income, first generation, and racially minoritized students. Evidence suggests the program structures an ecology of validating experiences that promote student success. The ecology of validation consists of multiple intentionally designed program contexts within which students experience affirming interactions over time with multiple proactive institutional agents who communicate their belief in students’ capabilities for college success. Experiences in the ecology develop and sustain outcomes associated with student success such as belonging, mattering, and confidence. This paper describes how students experience the program’s ecology of validation and the ways in which they perceived it contributed to their college success. Implications for program design are discussed.


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