Significant Conversations

The virtual Brackenridge experience has been characterized by break-out rooms galore! Something I have greatly enjoyed because it’s allowed me to meet the other scholars and learn about their works. Yet, I also love these interactions because with each new Zoom-Room comes a fresh opportunity to practice explaining my work and its significance to people who may not have extensive knowledge of this field and the issues I’m investigating.

Within the field of public policy research, it is essential to be able to explain a work’s significance to an audience without knowledge of the field. Often key decisionmakers may lack familiarity on the issue at hand, and in order for researchers to encourage meaningful systemic solutions, they must be able to detail the significance of their work to these groups.

If I were to explain the importance of my work to an audience without any prior knowledge of the subject, I would begin by describing the key problem my project is working to resolve, so that they can understand the severity of the situation. In this case, I would detail the long-existing achievement gap between native English-speakers and immigrants who lack proficiency in English (known as LEPs), as well as the lack of resources currently allocated to resolve this sever inequality. To quantify this disparity, I would provide statistics on the educational gap between LEP students and their peers, like the 61% English-learner graduation rate – the lowest graduation rate of all student subgroups within the United States. Statistics such as this one help make the situation explicitly clear and allow the audience to more easily comprehend the immediate consequences of this inequality. With the introduction of the problem, comes the explanation of my project and how it’s working to investigate these disparities and identify the shortcomings in state policy that have enabled such persistent inequality. In doing so, I emphasize the severity of the issues faced by such a critically-underserved group within the United States and highlight how this project aims to facilitate educational, social, and professional equality by increasing the quantity and quality of resources provided to non-English-speaking immigrants within Pennsylvania.

As I’m hoping to enter the field of immigration law, it’s critical that I understand the best practices to communicating research, so that my work is easily understood by all audiences, specifically legislators and public officials with the ability to implement policy reform and allocate resources to better aid such underserved groups. Until then, I’ll keep practicing explaining my work to the cohort via Zoom!

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