African American Student Learning and Engagement in STEM

Kimberley E. Freeman, Ph.D.

Novermber 21, 2011


A former winner of the Howard University Faculty Senate's Emerging Scholar Award, Dr. Kimberley Freeman has emerged as a leading scholar of African American student engagement and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Before she arrived at Howard, she earned a Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Michigan's Combined Program in Education and Psychology. In addition, she directed the Frederick Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund. Since joining Howard's faculty, she has become an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Educational Psychology in Howard's School of Education while raising more than one million dollars in grants to support her research.

Currently, Dr. Freeman is the Principal Investigator of the Excellence and Motivation in Education Research Group (EMERG). According to her biography, EMERG "specializes in mixed-method education research, African American students' achievement motivation and development, and best practices in science and mathematics teacher education at HBCUs." Through funding from the National Science Foundation and the Thurgood Marshall College Foundation, the EMERG team has been working on a project entitled What Works in Producing African American Science and Math Teachers at HBCUs since, in the 1990s, more than 50% of all African-American teachers had graduated from HBCUs. The research project includes cases studies of HBCU math and science education programs, interviews with the teachers they graduate, and a longitudinal survey of first-year science and math majors at Howard. It is from the survey that much of the data for this video comes.

Dr. Freeman's interest in STEM education has led her to study student motivation, school cultures, learning communities, and best practices in Black schools (elementary through college). In the process, she has trained more than 20 graduate students in her lab during the last five years. She has also conducted workshops on education research methodology for faculty from across the country. Whether she is teaching or researching, her goal is to use research to enhance the quality of student learning and motivation in STEM. "Equipped with reliable scientific information," she explains, "HBCUs can take a leadership role in becoming major suppliers of African American science and math educators."

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