2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Catherine Bates, Luke Jones, and Vicki Stieha


This study has revealed that, although minority students have a sense of belonging in identity-based organizations, they do not feel the same in the classroom environment or with STEM faculty. Identity-based resources in universities can be a great way to represent and support minority students [1]. However, resources should also follow through to classroom environment. Faculty should be aware of the racial inequity between minority students and nonminority students. As important members of society, faculty have the responsibility to inspire and drive generations to succeed. Faculty should strive to close this racial inequity in the classroom and through their teaching style. This study focused on understanding if and how minority students in STEM “feel a sense belonging” at Boise State University [2]. We conducted 14 individual interviews with minority students who are a part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program. Together, we analyzed and discussed the interviews through the use of a collaborative empathy map. We found that minority students felt a sense of belonging, had family-like relationships, and were comfortable in their own skin when at identity-based organizations. Although, when it came to faculty and classroom environments students did not feel the same. We found that minority students didn’t build meaningful relationships with faculty, faculty does not reach out to students, and classroom environments often alienate them. We recommend that (1) BSU faculty gain understanding of how differently minority students’ experiences and feelings are towards classroom vs. identity-based programs, (2) BSU faculty should learn from the identity-based programs and implement successful components in the classroom (3) BSU faculty should create a safe space in the classroom that allows for students to comfortably talk and participate in discussion.


[1] E. Knaphus-Soran, D. Hiramori, and E. Litzler, "Anti-racist institutional transformation matters: how can community cultural wealth and counterspace processes illuminate areas for change?," in American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Online, 2021.

[2] T. L. Strayhorn, College students' sense of belonging: A key to educational success for all students. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.



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