Junior Faculty Grant Awardee: Rob Eschmann, School of Social Work

Protecting Students Against Racism in Educational Settings: Developing and Evaluating a Virtual-Reality Based Intervention

Rob Eschmann, Associate Professor of Social Work

Despite a growing body of evidence that details the negative effects of racial discrimination on health and wellbeing, research on resisting or countering experiences with bias remains limited. For example, racial microaggressions are defined as racial slights that can question the appearance, criminality, or intellectual ability of people of Color, and have been shown to have negative effects on health, mental health, and educational outcomes. Little research explores resistance to microaggressions, however, and the literature suggests that the most common response to microaggressions is to not respond. My preliminary research suggests that responding to racism can empower young people of Color, and that technology may increase their capacity to challenge racism. This study will investigate young adults’ experiences, both personal and vicarious, with racial microaggressions and identify perceived barriers to responding to microaggressions, 2) develop a virtual reality (VR) intervention that will depict microaggressions being perpetrated, highlight the factors that lead to these experiences being ignored, and present concrete examples of productive responses to racial microaggressions, and 3) conduct a randomized pilot study of the VR intervention.

Learn more about Professor Rob Eschmann here.

This project was funded through the Office of the Provost Grants Program for Junior Faculty who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University.