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Despite programmes and initiatives intended to enable access to higher education for underrepresented students, higher education in the United States suffers from a persistent social class achievement gap. Although research exists about the social and academic factors that contribute to the social class achievement gap, one ubiquitous practice in higher education has been neglected – the research assignment. In this article, I share a subset of findings from a qualitative study that explores first-generation college students’ experiences with research assignments in college. In particular, I present four case studies of participants who relied on their identities and prior knowledge to successfully a complete research assignment. Finally, I introduce the funds of knowledge concept, which honours students’ identities and lived experiences, to provide a conceptual approach for engaging underrepresented and minoritised students through research assignments.
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