Race & Gender in Context: A Multi-Method Study of Risk and Resilience in College Students’ Pathways

Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project examines the experiences of ethnic minority students (Black, Latino/a, Asian/Asian American) at five predominantly White universities. A central focus is on academic identity - or students' cognitive, affective, and behavioral engagement in their learning contexts - as necessary for sustained academic motivation, persistence, and success. We examine different forms of racial and gender stigma that ethnic minority students may be particularly likely to experience in predominantly White institutions (token minority status, interpersonal discrimination, hostile racial and gender climates), the ways these experiences may emerge within different disciplinary and social contexts on campus, and the implications of these experiences for students' academic identity development. Using multiple methodologies (longitudinal survey, daily diaries, qualitative interviews), we investigate questions such as:

  • How do students' negative and positive identity-based experiences on campus (discrimination, institutional climate, intergroup interactions) impact their academic identities and subsequent achievement outcomes? In what ways do students draw on their personal and social identities (racial, cultural, gender, social class, among other identities) to support and promote positive academic identity development and motivation?  What characteristics of and structures within students' university institutional contexts support or inhibit students' positive academic identity development? (Principal Investigator: Tabbye Chavous)


This project is the inaugural project of the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context at the University of Michigan. Funded by NSF, the project focuses on racial socialization processes in family, school, and community contexts among Black adolescents in three demographically diverse school districts. "Socialization" includes the explicit and implicit messages that are transmitted to and received by youth about the importance and meanings associated with their racial group. We utilize multiple methods (longitudinal survey, daily diary, qualitative interview and ethnographic approaches) to examine the socialization messages that youth receive about being Black, ways these messages may align or conflict across school, family, and community settings, and implications for youths' identity development, academic achievement, socio-emotional competence, and well-being outcomes. Of central interest is examining the vast diversity among Black families and youth to better understand how parents' goals for and messages to their children about race are shaped by their different social contexts. For instance, we explore questions such as:

  • How are parents' strategic socialization choices and approaches influenced by their own backgrounds and experiences? by how they perceive the specific demands and risks present in their children's school and community settings? What socialization messages do youth receive from their school settings - through interactions with others and school structures - about the meaning of being Black? In what ways can adolescents' family racial socialization and racial identity beliefs serve to promote their psychological and academic adjustment? Under what conditions do racial socialization and racial identity serve as protective factors against the negative effects of discrimination or other negative race-related experiences commonly experienced by youth of color? (Principal Investigators: Tabbye Chavous, Robert Jagers, Carla O'Connor, Stephanie Rowley, & Robert Sellers)

Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context

Our research lab functions as a unit within the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context (CSBYC) at the University of Michigan. The CSYBC focuses on research, community engagement, and research and professional training related to the social, psychological, and educational development of Black children and youth. For more information on the CSBYC, please click here.
AIC Research Projects

The projects listed below include some of the on-going and past studies of the Achievement in Context Lab.

Racial Discrimination, Racial Identity, and Psychological Well-Being Among African Americans

Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project examined the roles of racial identity and racial discrimination in the psychological adjustment and adaptation of Black college students in diverse public universities. Using longitudinal survey, diary, and experimental approaches, we considered the situational and longer-term impacts of racial discrimination experiences and other race-related experiences on psychological distress and well-being, among other social and academic outcomes. In addition, we examined racial identity as an individual difference characteristic that may influence students' appraisals of and responses to discrimination experiences. (Principal Investigator: Robert Sellers, Co-PI: Tabbye Chavous)


African Americans in Higher Education

Funded by the Spencer Foundation, this longitudinal study involved following up youth from the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study (MADICS) as they entered early adulthood, with a focus on those entering higher and postsecondary education settings.  Study methods included longitudinal surveys and individual interviews. Focus areas of the study included individual- and contextual-level factors supporting students' transitions into higher education, racial and gender identity beliefs, racial climate experiences on campus, and institutional supports that supported persistence. (Principal Investigator: Tabbye Chavous)


Past Projects
Data Sets

As a result of our projects, AIC lab members have access to and conduct analyses with several datasets focused on the development of Black families, adolescents, and young adults. Examples include:


-3-District Racial Socialization Study (3-D)

-College Academic and Social Identities Study (CASIS)

-African American Daily Life Experiences Study (AADLX)


Lab members also have carried out secondary analyses with datasets of other collaborators and with external, publicly available datasets, for example:


-Flint Adolescent Study

-Fragile Families Study
-MADICS: Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study
-National Educational Longitudinal Survey



University of Michigan