Research Environments as Counterspaces? Examining Spaces that Inhibit and Support Science Identity Development for Black Students in STEM

Tonisha B. Lane


Using data generated from semi-structured interviews, the present study explored the experiences of 23 Black collegians and recent baccalaureate recipients who participated in a structured undergraduate research program, as part of a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) enrichment program. Specifically, this study investigated how Black collegians described their undergraduate research environments compared to traditional STEM classroom environments. While their research environments were engaging and confirmatory of their decisions to pursue a STEM degree, the STEM classroom environments exposed students to racial microaggressions and a need to prove their intellectual worth. Findings suggest that undergraduate research environments may provide necessary counterspaces for science identity amidst racist and hegemonic academic environments.

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