Supporting Equity in Education for Underrepresented Learners


Educational institutions lead in the construction and dissemination of knowledge. The responsibility of supporting underrepresented learners in their pursuit of knowledge includes proactive and collaborative action. Higher education was once considered a tool for social mobility but now reinforces the social and economic divide. Earning an education was a promise to level the playing field and help learners realize their potential and increase their opportunities for success. For some, gaining an education is their measure of success in social advancement. For underrepresented learners, access to higher education is a challenge. For those who gain acceptance to educational institutions, there are challenges to navigating the environment to access resources and maximize their academic achievement. Cultural competence is a necessary skill for enhancing the educational experience of the underrepresented learner. Cultural competence as a requirement for higher education faculty and staff can reduce the effects of marginalizing learners. Marginality occurs as populations are pushed outside of the margins of support structures. Marginalized and underrepresented populations need support in learning to navigate through some educational systems. Collaborative strategies are needed to reimagine educational success for underrepresented learners striving for success in higher education. Greenberg recommends actions for educational institutions to support underrepresented learners that include incorporating equity priorities in the institutional culture. This research was conducted to explore the barriers and challenges underrepresented learners may experience in higher learning. Strategies for overcoming the barriers and challenges include cultural competence for faculty and staff.

Author Information
Imani Akin, American College of Education, United States
Gail Claybrooks, American College of Education, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ERI2023
Stream: Enhancing Access for Underrepresented Learners

This paper is part of the ERI2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Akin I., & Claybrooks G. (2023) Supporting Equity in Education for Underrepresented Learners ISSN: 2435-1202 – The IAFOR Conference on Educational Research & Innovation: 2023 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon