Mark Zachry

Spring 2020

Online Experiences of People who were in Foster Care

Co-directed by PhD student John Fowler, and Professors David McDonald and Mark Zachry 

Note: This DRG is at capacity for Spring 2020

Are you curious about the ways that online platforms are used to amplify the voices of individuals in marginalized communities? Are you interested in the foster care system? Do you believe in centering the feedback of individuals who have first-hand experience with the strengths and weaknesses of a system? In this DRG, we intend to explore concepts like these through a focused exploration of an online community moderated by, and centering the expertise of, former foster youth.

We are looking for students during Spring quarter to help with a study aimed at understanding how former foster youth in an online community discuss their experiences. We are particularly interested in gaining insight around the transition period out of the system and in to adulthood. As part of this research, we will be reading literature around online communities and social computing with a specific focus on foster youth and other marginalized populations. Our primary venture as a group will be qualitatively coding user comments from an online community that is geared toward the priorities and experiences of former foster youth. (Please note that we will be reading comments that often include discussions of traumatic events.)

We are looking for a maximum of 8 students who have experience with or a desire to learn about (1) qualitative coding; (2) user behavior in online communities; (3) foster care.

The DRG will be held every Wednesday from 3:45 – 4:45 p.m. There will be an additional weekly hour of online or in person class time to be determined based on participant schedules.

This is a 2-credit research group offered to undergraduate (HCDE 496) and graduate (HCDE 596) students. The application form is now closed. If you have any questions, please email John Fowler at

Dr. Zachry's Research Group archive