Beyond the Numbers: The Experiential Effects of Stereotype Threat on Students of Color at TCU

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Kendall Wulbrun, Class of 2019


This study aims to examine if and how the effects of negative stereotypes of students of color are felt beyond the statistical measures of academic success, reaching into the classroom and social experiences of these students. Through face-to-face interviews with four Community Scholars on the campus of Texas Christian University, key stereotypes of students of color were identified and several implications examined. This paper provides an analysis of the ways in which the classroom dynamics and performance, as well as the social life and experiences, of students of color at TCU are impacted by their identity as students of color and the stereotypes that others hold about their abilities. These experiences are informed by the concept of stereotype threat, inwhich students experience identity contingencies when asked to perform in a situation relevant to the stereotypes held about their identity. Ultimately, this study hopes to inform better practices and spread awareness of the difficulties and challenges faced by students of color, both in the classroom and socially, during their experiences at TCU.

Comments from Mentors

Kendall is a remarkable student and one who is admired by her peers and professors. Her research and writing skills are superb, and she is interested in producing scholarship that will have lasting effects on the community. She did not consider course assignments merely as steps toward course credit, but rather she thought of them as opportunities to find solutions to problems and bring to light issues that required serious attention.   

Kendall’s crowning achievement at TCU was her social change legacy project for the Chancellor’s Leadership Program. Kendall is the founder and creator of TCU FACES, an event aimed at highlighting the voices and experiences of students of color at TCU. Through her honors research investigating how stereotype-threat affects the experiences of academically-driven students of color at TCU, she became aware of many disheartening experiences that have happened on the TCU campus. She realized that it wasn’t enough to write about such experiences in research papers where only professors would read it. She knew students needed to be exposed to the stories. The goal of TCU FACES was to give voice to students who are underrepresented and often silenced or unheard on campus. TCU FACES offered an opportunity for TCU students to understand these issues on a deeper, more personal level and was an immensely successful event.  

Wendy Williams 


When I consider all of the students I have taught at TCU over the past twenty-five years, Kendall Wulbrun stands out as one of the brightest and most imaginative. Her exemplary thesis demonstrates her sociological creativity and complex understanding of intersectionality and its impacts on identity and educational achievement. Kendall’s research is exceptional on all fronts and boldly delves into the social and personal experiences of first-generation students and students of color who must navigate a barrage of structural constraints in their daily lives. Her qualitative and inductive research approach enables students to speak in their own voices about their lives on and off campus and about how they manage threats to identity and find opportunities for personal and academic growth. In the end, she blends those voices to create a vivid and compelling set of conclusions about the social-psychological impacts of the built-in inequities in higher education. Kendall’s commitment to creating spaces for social justice, abiding respect for others, and drive and inventiveness are exemplified in her work and in her life as a student leader on campus.

Carol Thompson

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John V. Roach Honors College