Complex Cultural Identities and Stereotype Threat in Engineering: An Integrative Mixed-Methods Study
Amalia Krystal Lira

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Michigan State University

Primary Discipline

Individuals from traditionally minoritized groups, such as Black, Latinx, and Native American men and women, continue to be underrepresented in engineering careers. A growing body of research in educational psychology points to the particular importance of examining identity processes in educational settings, especially those situated in racialized and gendered experiences. Given that identity development is impacted by social-cultural and contextual factors, it is also important to consider how perceptions about one’s environment can lead students to develop adaptive or maladaptive beliefs about “who they are.” As such, examining stereotype threat—the anxiety related to being judged stereotypically and conforming to the stereotypes—in combination with multiple identities, may be important for understanding how to increase engineering achievement and persistence.This multitheoretical and mixed methods study will examine complex identities and stereotype threat on engineering persistence and achievement. Using an explanatory sequential design, the quantitative survey data analysis will be used to inform the qualitative data collection. A latent profile analysis, using the structural equation modeling framework, will be employed to examine the unique profiles of individuals in varying identity and stereotype threat profiles. Further, a sub-sample of the same students will be interviewed to gain an in-depth understanding of their experiences in engineering. This dissertation has the potential to advance theoretical and practical knowledge of engineering persistence by using culturally relevant and asset-based theories and methods and by providing recommendations for structural supports that may benefit diverse students.
About Amalia Krystal Lira
Amalia (Krystal) Lira is a Ph.D. candidate in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education at Michigan State University. She is interested in broadening participation of diverse communities in the STEM workforce. She draws from theories of identity, critical race theory, and motivation theories to inform how to support diverse students in the STEM pipeline. Her dissertation study explores intersectionality among Black engineering students and the gender and racial stereotype threat they may face to better understand engineering persistence using explanatory mixed methods.At Michigan State University, Krystal worked as a research assistant on an NIH-funded longitudinal study that examined how motivation, identity, and belonging influenced persistence in Engineering majors. She also worked directly with her graduate program to addresses equity-focused issues on campus and to advocate for diverse student representation in her program. Her commitment to equity-focused research was recognized in 2019 as she was awarded the Donald H. Nickerson Fellowship in Cultural Diversity and Minority Concerns in the College of Education at Michigan State University. She also currently serves as a graduate student committee member of the Race and Diversity Ad Hoc Committee for the American Psychological Association (Division 15). She is a first-generation, Latinx female scholar from Los Angeles, California and received her B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach.

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