One of the most difficult tasks we face as human beings is trying to communicate across individual differences, trying to make sure that what we say to someone is interpreted the way we intended. This becomes even more difficult when we attempt to communicate across social differences, gender, race, or class lines, or any situation of unequal power. We have conducted a nine-year longitudinal study of the relationship between pre-college enrichment experiences and the development of academic ethos (scholar identity) in educationally disadvantaged African-American adolescents. The study, Project EXCEL, examines how each participant constructs a definition of "scholar" and how, or if, that definition affects achievement in a university-sponsored enrichment program in reading, writing, and foreign language study. Student participants enter the program as sophomores and exit at the conclusion of their senior year.


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