Núñez, A. M. (2017). Flipping the HSI narrative: An HSI positionality. Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, 11(3), 276-295.

Historically, the predominant narrative framing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) is that they are monolithic and underperforming, inscribed in a false dichotomy as “Hispanic-Serving” or merely “Hispanic-Enrolling” (Núñez, Hurtado, & Calderón Galdeano, 2015). Together, these narrative threads weave a deficit perspective on HSIs that manifests itself too often, either implicitly or explicitly, when HSIs are addressed in research, policy, and practice. Unfortunately, such tendencies can result in unintended negative consequences for HSIs, including reduced institutional resources if inappropriate evaluations of institutional performance are conducted for performance funding purposes (Núñez, 2014; Núñez & Rodríguez, in press; Webber & Ehrenberg, 2009). Reflecting on her experiences in HSIs, the author argues to advance an “HSI positionality” that centers HSIs’ realities, rather than externally imposed frames, as a central departure point to infuse future research, policy, and practice concerning HSIs. This move can mitigate the “epistemic injustice” (Frank, 2013) that traditionally has characterized the description and recognition of HSIs through deficit perspectives that do not fully recognize the contexts and contributions of HSIs. In this article, she suggests on how to build dispositions to conduct equity-oriented research on HSIs: (1) outlines the importance of mitigating epistemic injustice, by advancing a more socially just, holistic, and informed way of understanding HSIs; (2) discusses the importance of distinguishing between methodology and methods in higher education research, calling on researchers to employ a “transformative paradigm” (Hurtado, 2015; Mertens, 2009) in studying HSIs (Núñez, Hurtado, & Calderón Galdeano, 2015); (3) she delineates how three components of a transformative paradigm–epistemology, ontology, and axiology–can constitute an “HSI positionality” that can shape the last component of a transformative paradigm-methodology–to be more inclusive of the perspectives of HSIs and the personnel in them; and (4) in order to empower HSIs from the HSI positionality and the transformative paradigm, she addresses how researchers can partner with faculty and staff at HSIs to flip the narrative around HSIs.

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