Jul 1 2021

Associate Professor, Dr. Leshell Hatley and her Team Awarded a 2020 NSF HBCU-UP Research Center Grant

Howard University, Morehouse College, Winston-Salem State University, and Coppin State University launch a NSF HBCU-UP Broadening Participation Research Center focused on studying the development of African American students’ identity and motivation in STEM using a psychological strengths orientation to inquiry.

The National Science Foundation has invested $2.4 million to fund the collaborative Broadening Participation Research Center for the Development of Identity and Motivation of African American Students in STEM.  The Principal Investigators leading this innovative research and practice center are Drs. David Wall Rice (Morehouse College), Rashunda Stitt Richardson (Winston-Salem State University), Leshell Hatley (Coppin State University), Kimberley Edelin Freeman and Cynthia Winston-Proctor (Howard University).

The Center was established to examine the nature of identity-based motivation among African American undergraduates in STEM at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Emphasis will be placed on the STEM engagement, persistence, and achievement for this group, with artificial intelligence (i.e. machine learning) and narrative studies positioned as significant tools leveraged to gain novel insight.

Hatley with Computer Science students

The Center is anchored in HBCU ingenuity, deep study, and synergistic team science led by principal investigators who have collaborated in some capacity for over 25 years. Coordinating their independent research labs within a collaborative Center infrastructure will enhance their research capacity to accelerate use-inspired knowledge production. In so doing, the Center’s work will be grounded in the research they have conducted across their individual academic careers, which has centered on the following: race-focused psychological science theory development and multi method research design (e.g. quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods) to answer questions about identity development, engagement, persistence, and achievement of African Americans within various types of  STEM educational contexts (e.g. HBCUs; K-12 education) across multiple periods of human development.   

The Center is designed to significantly impact the evolving science of broadening participation that has been catalyzed by significant investments by the National Science Foundation HBCU-UP in broadening participation education research and human resource development. The central goals of the Center are to cultivate more direct paths forward across science disciplines as informed by mixed methods research design; and then the translation, dissemination, and mobilization of new scientific evidence generated by the Center in ways that will lead to educational improvement and increased achievement in STEM for African Americans. The Center also focuses on producing a new cadre of researchers in the psychological science of broadening participation who will have a sustained commitment to study HBCUs and the development of identity, motivation, and achievement of African Americans within STEM educational contexts. 

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