Broadening Participation Research Center: Center for the Development of Identity and Motivation of African American Students in STEM

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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.

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. 

Faculty Profiles & Lab URLs:

Drs. Kimberly Freeman & Cynthia Winston-Proctor (Howard University)

Faculty Profile:

Faculty Profile:

"The National Science Foundation’s investment in this collaborative  broadening participation research center represents a profound commitment to the psychological science of broadening participation.  It will enable our distinctive principal investigator leadership team to strengthen our research capacity for team science focused on the psychological strengths leveraged by African Americans to promote their excellence and success in STEM.  It is a blessing to have this opportunity to work with this team, at this historical turning point, and in my capacity as a Professor in the Howard University Department of Psychology with its pioneering legacy of training the next generation of African American psychologists." -Cynthia Winston-Proctor, Ph.D.

"Our new Broadening Participation Research Center stands on the shoulders of HBCU scholars and scientists and we are proud to continue the tradition of creating new knowledge to transform the lives of African Americans. As a fourth generation HBCU graduate I follow in the footsteps of my parents and ancestors in striving to be a scholar and educator who seeks to cultivate positive change in the STEM education of African American students and build Black educational institutions. I am honored to work with this group of researchers and HBCUs to advance our collective goals."  -Kimberley Edelin Freeman, Ph.D.

Dr. David Wall Rice (Morehouse College)

Faculty Profile:

Identity, Art and Democracy Lab:

"To be involved in this type of freedom work with the Schools and the principlals attached is a gift.  The squad is amazing and committed, and to be bound by the science and the responsibility to do good will, no doubt, yield important discovery." -David Wall Rice, Ph.D.

Dr. Rashunda Stitt (Winston-Salem State University)

Faculty Profile: 

“It is a privilege to engage in work I am passionate about with this team who has individually informed my scholarship and teaching through their research and praxis. I am forever grateful and appreciative for the opportunity." -Rashunda Stitt-Richardson, Ph.D.

Dr. Leshell Hatley (Coppin State University)

Faculty Profile:
The Lab for Artificial Intelligence and its Applications (LAIA) -

“It is more than an honor to work with this team and these topics.  This perfect combination of academic leadership, computer science, and education is a dream come true and confirms the purpose and passion for my work over the past 20+ years!” - Leshell Hatley, Ph.D.