Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Room: Park Tower 8216
Oluwadamilola Babatola - University of Georgia
Co-Author(s): Darris Means, University of Georgia, GA Birook Mekonnen, University of Georgia, GA Omowunmi Oni, University of Georgia, GA Chimezie Osondu, University of Georgia, GA Julie Stanton, University of Georgia, GA
There is an abundance of research on the barriers Black students face in completing STEM degrees. Yet it is also critical to understand how Black students succeed in STEM majors. We have decided to focus on the unique abilities that Black students possess, termed capital. This idea of capital stems from Yosso’s model of Community Cultural Wealth (CCW), which states that minority populations possess “an array of knowledge, skills, abilities, and contacts”, which they can use to succeed in their education (Yosso, 2005, p. 77). We interviewed 34 academically-successful Black undergraduate science majors twice during their senior year at a large research university. Fall interviews followed a semi-structured format and consisted of 24 open-ended questions. Spring interviews included a card sorting activity and photo-elicitation project. For the card sorting activity, participants were given cards with phrases related to each of the seven forms of CCW and were asked to choose and explain the cards that resonated with their success in science. Participants were also asked to submit and explain 5-10 photos reflecting the factors that contributed to their success. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis. Content analysis was used to label segments of the data related to the forms of capital and categorical analysis was used to identify themes in the data. Each transcript was coded by at least two researchers to ensure rigor. Our results suggest that Black STEM majors deal with the challenges they face in school with a variety of methods. For example, several participants described their ability to focus and their determination to succeed in STEM majors. Propelled by a desire to do well, participants were willing to cut down on certain activities and engage in time management techniques. Students in our study also confronted hardship in academics by asking for help. Participants showed hesitance towards the idea of asking for help, followed by the realization that doing so could only benefit them. This resulted in them asking professors to explain concepts until they understood them or reaching out to classroom peers for study groups. Students in our study also “navigated the system” by taking advantage of office hours, tutoring opportunities on and off-campus, and career-oriented services provided by the school. Our research shows that Black science majors do not easily back down from a challenge; rather, they use their internal strengths to make sure that no stone is unturned in their pursuit of success. By educating faculty and staff about the strengths Black students bring to their science majors, we can help address issues of implicit bias. Future research plans involve collecting data at an institution with different demographics and comparing findings. References: Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (NSF 1831153). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Julie Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I participated in data collection (which consisted of interviewing participants) and data analysis (coding transcripts).