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The couch as a classroom: exploring the school environment of low-income Latine adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jennifer Renick (College of Education, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Stephanie M. Reich (School of Education, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 19 December 2022

Issue publication date: 9 May 2023




The purpose of this paper is to uncover what the at-home educational environments of low-income Latine adolescents looked like during the COVID-19 pandemic and how these environments influenced students’ participation in their online classes. Additionally, the findings highlight students’ perspectives on their varied engagement in virtual instruction.


Data for this study were collected via an online survey that included both open and close-ended questions. Students were able to share about their behaviors and comfort in their online classes, as well as provide photos of the areas from which they joined their online classes. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods were used.


Many students in the sample expressed discomfort with themselves and their homes being seen on camera and shared having to juggle multiple responsibilities during online classes. Photos uploaded revealed that at-home educational environments often lacked the resources afforded by in-school instruction, with students joining classes from areas that may not be conducive to learning.


Research has highlighted the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated existing issues of educational equity, but the systemic reasons for these inequities remain understudied. The results from this study highlight the ways in which disparate at-home learning environments may help to explain unequal engagement in online classes.



Renick, J. and Reich, S.M. (2023), "The couch as a classroom: exploring the school environment of low-income Latine adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 237-249.



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