Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Samuel McQuillin

Second Advisor

Meeta Banerjee


Black students’ experiences in school can vary due to racism and discrimination within and outside of the classroom, which can impact their academic progress and overall well-being. In this three-part study, the impact of discrimination is observed to determine if there is a long-term effect of these situations and, if so, determine if there is utility to implement school-based resources to decrease these negative effects. The first study examined whether ethnic-racial socialization in childhood could moderate against symptoms of trauma in young adulthood that were potentially caused by discrimination from peers and teachers in childhood through hierarchical regressions. The second study consisted of a series of focus groups with area Black high school students to gather information regarding their current experiences with discrimination and racism in school. The study also explored if these students receive any adult support in the event that they experience discrimination or other stressful events. Students indicated that they tend to rely on peers and extracurricular activity teachers for support. Interestingly, many Black girls indicated concerns with feeling targeted by their schools’ dress code policies to the point that they or their peers receive consequences when wearing clothes that are similar to other girls in their school. This experience directly impacts their relationships with certain teachers. The final study sought to determine the utility of a classroom-based activity related to dress code policies to improve student-teacher relationships. A series of interviews with current high school teachers found that there is in fact inconsistencies in dress code enforcement that tends to impact Black students. Additionally, the implementation of a discussion-based activity related to dress code enforcement would be useful to implement within high schools to improve relationships between teachers and students. These results suggest that Black students could benefit from school-based interventions against racist and discriminatory practices to improve their academic engagement and overall well-being. Broadly, these students must receive support in more settings than at home to cope with discriminatory and racist experiences in order to effectively cope and thrive in their transition from adolescence to adulthood.


© 2023, Daria Chantal Thompson