Isolation and Discrimination in High School: Impact on Perceptions of STEM Courses

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Anna Lee



Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2019


Due to the hierarchy of race in America, Black people often find themselves in environments where they struggle to fit in and be accepted by their white counterparts and by authority. One of the places this happens most often is in schools. Black children find it hard to feel accepted by their white classmates and by their teachers. Researchers have been able to find examples of black students recognizing and being able to articulate the discriminatory nature of the way they are treated in schools. This leaves students feeling singled-out and isolated in these environments. The purpose of this study is to examine the ways in which Black students experience isolation and discrimination in high school math and science courses. This research is based on the following research question: How does the feeling of isolation and discrimination affect perceptions of STEM courses in high school? It is hypothesized that there will be a negative associations between perceived discrimination and isolation and perceptions of STEM. The method included focus group interviews and individual interviews of high school seniors and college freshman. The students were asked specific questions regarding their high school experience which would highlight perceived discrimination and isolation and the impact it had on each individual. It is expected that students’ will have negative perceptions of STEM courses if they have experienced isolation and discrimination in school.

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