Exploring Racial Microaggression in Science Education
While prior research has focused almost exclusively on faculty and students of color within higher education, Atwater will be using various methods in her study, “Exploring Racial Microaggression in Science Education,” to examine microaggressors at seven institutions of higher education with science education programs.
Past research shows that science and science education faculty and students of African or Latino ancestry regularly face intentional and unintentional acts of racial microaggressions that often negatively impact whether they remain in science education departments and STEM courses.
Since many of these acts of racial microaggression come from administrators, colleagues, and peers, the EAGER grant will serve as an important step in directly addressing microaggression in higher education. In addition to identifying any activities that might lead to microaggressions, Atwater’s study will look at why microaggressors are either aware or unaware of their acts, while also collecting data about policies that have been used by colleagues and administrators to minimize racial microaggressions.
With the help of a few graduate students at Columbia University and the University of Georgia, Atwater will use critical race theory to frame the study, as well as questionnaires, implicit attitude tests interviews, and other archival documents to acquire data for the study.
National Science Foundation
- Principal investigator
Mary M. Atwater
Professor, Mathematics and Science Education
- Active since
Visit the Project Website
The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education research that will generate foundational knowledge in the field. This project will examine ways to broaden participation in STEM for science education faculty of African ancestry and science education Latino/a faculty. Research shows that science and science education faculty and students from these populations regularly face intentional and unintentional acts of racial microaggressions that often negatively impact whether they remain in the STEM pipeline. Since many of these acts of racial microaggression come from administrators, colleagues, and peers, this project will serve as an important step in directly addressing this issue. The research will:
- Identify actions or activities that might be precursors of or lead to microaggressions.
- Seek to better understand why the microaggresssors might be aware or unaware of their acts.
- Collect data about approaches and policies that have been used by colleagues and administrators to minimize racial microaggressions.
The Critical Race Theory will be used as the lens to frame the study. Questionnaires, an Implicit Attitude Test, interviews, and other archival documents will be used as sources of data for this study. These sources will allow the exploration of gaps in the literature where prior research focused almost exclusively on faculty and students of color within science education rather than on performers of microaggressions. This investment will support a risky, yet, potentially transformative venue for theory development relative to reducing racial microaggressions in science education. The outcomes will assist in the development of an instrument that will reliably measure implicit bias that will be of benefit to the at-large scientific community.