Judith Herb College of Education

Project: Creating Adaptive Culturally Diverse Learning Environments

Social Identity, Intergroup Contact, and Achievement Goals: Toward an Integrated Approach to Creating Adaptive, Culturally Diverse Learning Environments

Principal Investigator: Dr. Revathy Kumar, University of Toledo

Co- Principal Investigators: Dr. Stuart Karabenick & Dr. Martin Maehr, University of Michigan

This study seeks to understand the problems encountered by immigrant minority middle school students and to discern what schools and teachers can do to mitigate students’ feelings of exclusion and create an environment in which all students can grow—intellectually, interpersonally, and socially.


Twelve middle schools in two economically diverse school districts in the Midwest are participating in the study. Both have a high concentration of Middle Eastern (ME) students. Ethnic diversity across the sample ranges from schools in which 75 to 90% of students are European American and ME students are a numerical minority, to schools in which 90% are ME students and European American students are a minority.


Multiple methodologies (focus group interviews, structured and open-ended surveys to students and teachers, and the assessment of implicit attitudes) will:

  • examine both social identities and the nature of intergroup contact experiences among cultural minority and mainstream adolescents in schools at high risk for intercultural conflict;
  • determine students’ perceptions of their academic culture;
  • examine associations between social identity, intergroup contacts, and perceived academic culture;
  • test whether theoretically adaptive academic cultures coincide with students’ academic, social and emotional well-being

Funded by Spencer Foundation: Grant # 200800069

Last Updated: 6/27/22