First Advisor

Karlyn Adams-Wiggins

Date of Award

Spring 3-20-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Public Health Studies: Pre-clinical Health Science and University Honors


Health Studies




culturally responsive, STEM, Underepresented, Online modality, paradigm shift, Black


The prevalence of racism and microaggressions in STEM disciplines within colleges presents significant hurdles to the academic success and well-being of underrepresented students. Microaggressions, encompassing subtle biases and stereotyping, have a cumulative impact, inducing heightened stress, diminished motivation, and reduced self-efficacy among minority students, thereby impeding cognitive functioning and hindering academic progress (Ogunyemi et al., 2020). The existence of these negative emotional responses creates a less conducive learning environment for academic achievement. Additionally, structural inequalities within STEM institutions contribute to disparities in resource access, limited mentorship opportunities, and support networks crucial for success in STEM fields (Atkins et al., 2020).

This paper aims to explore the profound effects of racism, microaggressions, and microinsults on the academic experiences and outcomes of underrepresented students in STEM, emphasizing the impact on the student psyche. It underscores the importance of fostering inclusive environments and alternative learning mechanisms, such as online education, through a holistic, culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and equitable lens.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online learning, transforming the educational landscape. This shift, from traditional on-site learning to a hybrid system, has raised questions about its impact on student progress, success, and persistence. Persistence is defined as grade growth, staying in academia, growth in concept retention, and continued desirability of pursuing a career. Does online modality addresses social, economic, and societal barriers often associated with traditional on-site learning? Does online education influence student persistence, perceived effectiveness, growth, and grasp of concepts?

Persistent Identifier