The Center for Traumatic Stress Research (CTSR) at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) was recently awarded a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore perceptions of stereotype threat among African American engineering students. The grant award totals $289,089.00 over a two-year period.
“This study and its potential outcomes have the potential to transform the field of engineering education and lead to improved engineering teaching, learning, and research experiences for African American, and other historically underrepresented students in engineering programs,” said Cirecie West-Olatunj, Ph.D., CTSR director and associate professor of counseling at XULA.
To conduct the study, Dr. West-Olatunji will employ a team of scholars, including another counselor educator, Dr. Ariel Encalade Mitchell, two master’s-level counseling students at XULA, and other scholars from around the country.
According to Dr. Whitney Gaskins, an engineering educator at the University of Cincinnati and project collaborator, “the knowledge gained from this study can be used to alter engineering education nationally to impact advising, instructional delivery, and curriculum content.”
Dr. West-Olatunji founded CTSR in 2012 to investigate the psychological and emotional effects of trauma on individuals, families, and communities due to: (a) cultural hegemony in education, (b) natural and human-made disasters, and (c) child sexual abuse. The investigators also seek to discover empirically-tested clinical interventions that mitigate the effects of traumatic stress for client populations.
Dr. West-Olatunji served as the 62nd President of the American Counseling Association, 2013-2014.