Michael Vidal

Michael Vidal

University of New Hampshire



Mentor: Dr. Antonio Henley, UNH McNair Scholars Program

Challenges in the Access of Higher Education in Ghana

Since its independence in 1957, Ghana has developed a series of reforms in its education system in efforts to become a more unified and progressive nation (Ghana, 2011). Perhaps the most significant effort has been increasing access for its citizens to attend post-secondary level institutions. However, the country faces many challenges that impede its progress towards this ultimate goal. Research shows that there are significant disparities in the access to higher education for specific groups within Ghana, which predominantly includes women (Bloom, 2006) and Low Income (Teal, 2001) individuals. A case study will be conducted at the University of Ghana, one of the most prestigious universities in Africa. With a mission to develop world-class human resources to meet global development challenges (University of Ghana, 2011), the University of Ghana is an excellent model to address issues of access and equity in higher education.

This study will examine educators’ perceptions of challenges in the access to higher education for underrepresented groups in Ghana with a focus on public policies and from the viewpoint of higher education professionals. The purpose for research on higher education access in Ghana is to assess policies and practices that are in place to increase participation in post-secondary institutions for underrepresented groups. As Ghana, and Africa as a whole, works towards improving the quality and access of education for its citizenry, it is only best to use one of the leading institutions as a model to assess practices that can be implemented across other higher education institutions.



Mentor: Dr. David Pillemer, UNH Department of Psychology

Directive Functions of Autobiographical Memories: Selecting a Major

In the United States the enrollment in degree-granting institutions has increased 26% since 1997 - from 14.5 million to 18.2 million (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2008). More than ever aspiring students are attending universities around the country, all hoping to enter professional fields that will open doors to endless possibilities. The current competitive nature for employment has caused job seekers to search the best options to increase their visibility in our society. With workers who hold a bachelor’s degree earning about $26,000 more, on average, than workers with a high school diploma (Census Bureau, 2009); it is no surprise to see the significant increase of enrollment into institutions. 

Not much is known about the function of memory when deciding on what major a student wants to pursue. Little attention has been given to the power of memory, more specifically its directive function, which guides and directs behavior outside of consciousness. This is partly a result in the belief that “general or semantic memory, is seen as the primary source of direction and guidance” instead of ‘personal event memories’ that occur at a specific time and place (Pillemer, 2003). Investigation in this area can prove to be promising in the field of psychology and beneficial to educators at institutions. The specific research questions of this project are: How do students make the decision of identifying a major? And what role does autobiographical memory play in this decision?



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