Identifying the Community Cultural Wealth of Successful Black Science Students through Participatory Action Research
Black students persist in undergraduate science degree programs at a lower rate than all other racial and ethnic groups. Many of the barriers that Black students face in science programs have been identified. However, a major shortcoming of prior research is a lack of focus on the strengths that Black students use to succeed in science. To address attrition of Black students in science, it is critical to understand not only the barriers they face, but also the mechanisms by which academically successful Black students complete undergraduate science degrees. This IUSE Exploration and Design research project will use a participatory action research approach to investigate the strengths of academically successful Black undergraduate science majors. Research results will be widely-disseminated to raise awareness of Black students' community cultural wealth, which is the knowledge, skills, abilities, and contacts that they use for educational success. This qualitative study will help to build a foundation for testing hypotheses about Black students' community cultural wealth, thus contributing to the national need to study critical issues in undergraduate STEM education.
The overall goal of this research project is to understand the persistence of Black students in earning undergraduate science degrees. To achieve this goal, a team of faculty and undergraduate researchers will collaborate to examine the mechanisms Black students use to succeed in their undergraduate science majors. The aims of this project are to: (1) investigate the capital, knowledge, skills, abilities, and contacts used by Black science majors; and (2) raise faculty awareness of the community cultural capital that successful Black students draw upon. The capital that Black science majors use to succeed will be characterized at a doctoral university (University of Georgia) and a college that primarily awards associate degrees (East Georgia State College). Research results will be used to create a student-led workshop for raising faculty awareness of the capital Black students bring to their science majors. It is expected that this awareness will help faculty to better support Black students' persistence in earning undergraduate science degrees. This awareness may also contribute to more effective faculty support for all students. The workshop will also help address implicit bias, the unconscious attitudes and stereotypical opinions people have against certain groups of people. This project seeks to contribute to a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce by characterizing the community cultural wealth that Black students bring to their undergraduate science majors and by determining actions for raising awareness of this capital.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.