Term of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 1

Stephen Jenkins

Committee Member 2

Leon Spencer


Racial microaggressions are the subtle, oftentimes unconscious words or actions that are committed against people of color that denigrate them and may cause emotional and physical harm (Sue, Capodilupo et al., 2007). Because children are so vulnerable, it is important that educators understand the negative effects of racial microaggressions in a school setting and how to avoid them. The purpose of this research is to study the racial microaggressions that secondary school teachers may enact against students of color. Most research on racial microaggressions has taken place in higher education in the form of qualitative studies of focus groups. Few quantitative research studies have been found in secondary schools that study teachers being responsible for racial microaggressions against students. The current investigation utilizes the Student Life Experiences Survey (SLES), a twenty-one question survey that was administered to 342 twelfth grade students in a large, racially diverse public high school. The SLES measured the student's perception of the frequency of racial microaggressions they encountered by teachers over a four-year period and how bothered the students were by the racial microaggressions. The survey also allowed students to record written instances of racial microaggressions they experienced or observed. Through ANOVA analysis, the results of the survey2 revealed that students did not perceive many racial microaggressions over a four-year period, nor were they bothered by the ones they did experience. The written comments, however, indicated that students were much more bothered by the racial microaggressions than what was recorded on the survey. Asian and Hispanic students perceived they were called on more often by teachers to represent their race in class discussions and to teach words in their native language. Asian students perceived teachers thinking they all looked alike, and this bothered them. Hispanic students alleged that teachers thought they were illegal immigrants, and this bothered them greatly. The results of this study yield implications for anyone working with students. Racial microaggressions by teachers do happen to students of color, and they are bothered by them.

Research Data and Supplementary Material