THE EXPERIENCES OF UNDERGRADUATE BLACK WOMEN IN AN ACTIVE LEARNING HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN COURSE AT A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE INSTITUTION
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Black women’s underrepresentation in STEM disciplines remains an urgent problem of major concern in higher education institutions across the United States. The purpose of this investigation was to explore Black women’s experiences in an active learning STEM Human Centered Design course at a Predominantly White Institution. It also examined how these experiences influenced Black women’s intent to persist in STEM educational pathways. Black Feminist Thought Theoretical Framework was used to conceptualize and interpret the experiences of five Black female first year undergraduate students at a Predominantly White Institution in the Midwestern region of the United States. This qualitative case study research utilized semi structured interviews, direct observations, and documents to gather and triangulate data for this study. The findings from this study revealed that: (a) Imposter Syndrome: An Enduring Internalized Question of Competency, (b) Undermining of Academic Abilities: Cross Examination of Intellect, (c) Lack of Diversity: A Colorless Norm, (d) Isolation: Intrinsic Sensitivity of Separation from Others were the salient experiences facing these five undergraduate Black women. This investigation contributes to the dearth of scholarship on Black women in STEM by highlighting their undergraduate experiences in a STEM course, and describing ways to ensure their persistence towards STEM educational pathways.