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African American Families' Uses of Technology for Learning Outside of School

ASU professor to explore impact of technology on African American families
January 14, 2015

As today's world becomes more reliant upon technology to access things such as education and health care, associate professor at the School of Social Transformation Dr. Kimberly A. Scott wants to make sure that no one is left behind.

Scott has launched a new research project targeting African American families that will offer insight in to the intragroup differences among African Americans and their technology use. Her proposal, “African American Families' Uses of Technology for Learning Outside of School,” received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant will provide Scott and her partners the opportunity to conduct a national survey of African American families to look at the group's use of digital media outside of the formal school environment. It will also identify the mediating factors that enable African American families to use technology-- such as computers, tablets, smartphones, and game consoles-- for learning.

African American youth have been declared the least likely ethnic group to enter technology fields and still have one of the highest high school drop out rates in the country. Studies have shown that both African American and Latino children are more likely to attend schools that are disadvantaged economically than White children. But, programs such as STEM that have been geared toward racial minorities, have had significant impact on students' aspiration toward entering into science-related fields.

Scott's project will explore African American families' and their children's use of digital media and how different variables ranging from gender to family income affect children's potential to become digital learners and future innovators. The project will also offer additional understanding in how to engage African Americans in effectively obtaining 21st century technical skills.

The new study will serve as a complement to “Leveraging Technology for Learning in U.S. Latino Families,” a similar research project also supported by the Gates foundation.

Professor Scott has years of experience in youth academic development and was named as a Champion of Change for STEM Access by the White House and by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as one of the top 30 women in higher education. She is the executive director of CompuGirls, a program for teenage girls in underserved school districts that is meant to foster girls' ability to positively affect their communities using technology.


For more information, please contact Robin Baskin McNulty.