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Special colloquium by Honorary Degree Recipient prof. dr. Sandra Graham (University of California) (Colloquium)

Wednesday 18 October 2023Add to my calendar
13:30 to
Gr. 01.100
Toon Cilessen
Prof. dr. Sandra Graham
Do I Fit In? Race/ethnicity and feelings of belonging in School

In this talk, I describe a program of research on feelings of belonging in school and how such feelings are related to psychosocial adjustment and academic achievement in an ethnically diverse sample of adolescents attending middle schools and high schools that vary in racial/ethnic diversity.

By school belonging I mean students’ reports of much they feel like they are part of the school culture, they fit in, and are accepted and respected by others. A growing literature has documented that students who perceive a sense of belonging in school generally fare well – academically, socially, and emotionally.  I bring the racial/ethnic context to the study of school belonging. I review studies from our lab – both cross-sectional and longitudinal – that describe how feelings of belonging are shaped by important racial/ethnic context variables such as the size of one’s racial/ethnic group across critical school transitions, perceived representation of one’s group in critical STEM courses (e.g., 9th grade math), and how the differences between school-level and course-level representation affect both school belonging and academic achievement. Our research makes an argument for studying racial/ethnic diversity as a fluid and dynamic construct that impacts motivation and achievement in previously understudied ways.

About the speaker

Prof. Graham has made major contributions to the studies of motivation, aggression, bullying and peer victimization, ethnic diversity, and intergroup relations, with a focus on children of color. She has also contributed to important interventions and policy reforms affecting youth, including advising on school zero-tolerance policies, violent video games, and juvenile justice. She started her research career by examining the social context of attributions in the classroom. Her innovative experimental research helped pave the way to large-scale motivational interventions that are in use today. Graham has also focused on the connection between academic and behavioral problems, including aggression, peer victimization, and self-blame. As a teacher and mentor, she has inspired many psychology students and a remarkable number of notable Black women scholars.

She will receive an honorary degree from Radboud University on its centennial celebration, a testament to the relevance and value of her work for all social sciences.

News article about prof. Graham on www.ru.nl.