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Title: Highlighting Community Cultural Wealth of Black Students Raised in the United States by Parents Born and Raised Abroad
The number of students with multicultural experiences are growing in the United States. We define multicultural experiences as the multiple cultures that students experience in their early life and through family, which differs from the culture at their higher education institution. Many students immigrate to the US with their families after spending formative years in other countries, which gives them unique perspectives on multiple cultures. Multicultural engineering students have a different understanding of engineering from those without such experiences. These experiences both provide these students with certain advantages in engineering and present challenges in their educational pursuits. Examining both advantages and challenges provides an opportunity to understand these students’ strengths and adaptation strategies. Engineering is a field that requires new thoughts, insights, and opinions to advance. Their meaningful life experiences (particularly their multicultural experiences) can bring new light to issues in engineering as well. The study utilizes data from a larger mixed-methods study of Black students in engineering for in-depth interview transcripts, survey data, and an identity circle artifact. Two cases were purposefully selected for the current study – both participants were raised by African parents and had an additional international experience in a predominantly White country before studying engineering in the US. Both participants used this third point of reference to reflect on and give a rich description of their experience in the US. Through qualitative analysis of these cases, we will address the question: In what ways do Black students who are first- or second-generation immigrants from Africa and have studied abroad leverage community cultural wealth in engineering in the US? We use Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) framework to highlight the strengths these students leverage in engineering. CCW is an asset-based framework developed to highlight the strengths of the students from Communities of Color. There are six assets used as a guiding lens to inform research in these communities: familial, social, aspirational, navigational, resistance, and linguistic capital that students bring from their familial and community background. This framework names and categorizes the numerous skills Students of Color have obtained through lived experiences and how the students are able to be successful in academia. Furthermore, students have the ability to utilize these capitals to their advantage in order to be successful beyond academia. Exploring the CCW of Black immigrant students from African countries will give researchers a better understanding of the assets and strengths these students possess as well as the challenges they face. Through an examination of the CCW and various forms of capital for two Black immigrant students, we will emphasize the strengths of students with multicultural experiences in the hopes that they will be further valued and supported by university administrators.  more » « less
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Publisher / Repository:
American Society for Engineering Education
Date Published:
Journal Name:
ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    The community cultural wealth (CCW) theoretical framework recognizes the assets of oppressed communities. Within the framework, aspirational capital refers to the hope to achieve in the face of systemic barriers, while navigational capital includes tactics engaged to progress within institutions that were not designed for equitable achievement. This study explores where aspirational capital and navigational capital overlap (a frequent and theoretically relevant occurrence) for marginalized‐identity (MI) STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students.


    This study provides insight into the experiences of higher education for MI students. Understanding students' deployment of navigational and aspirational capitals can direct change within institutions.


    This analysis draws on 51 semi‐structured interviews with 26 participants. Multiple rounds of qualitative coding and shared meaning‐making among authors support the present findings.


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    MI students draw on aspirational and navigational capital for support in postsecondary education. Recognition of CCW components and strategies shifts the responsibility of equitable student experiences and academic success to institutions and stakeholders in STEM higher education.

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