Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Eric Dwyer

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Sarah Mathews

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Ana Luszczynska

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Aixa Perez-Prado

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Racial microaggressions, Indigenous, Mestizo, Mestizaje, Mestizo, Blanco, Self-efficacy, Self-esteem

Date of Defense



Although subtle, racial microaggressions have an impact on lives of people who endure hostilities by virtue of their race or ethnicity (Solórzano et al., 2000; Sue et al., 2007). Research on racial discrimination indicates that college campuses can be threatening environments especially for underrepresented students who constantly face elusive hostilities in their interactions with teachers, peers, and administrative (Allen, 2010; Helm, 2013; Nadal et al., 2014, Reid, 2017). The current mixed-methods study examined the most commonly experienced types of microaggressions affecting Indigenous undergraduate students while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a public higher education institution in Ecuador, as well as perceived relationships between microaggressions and students’ self-esteem and self-efficacy. The present study also analyzed experiences of Indigenous students in regard to their responses and coping mechanisms for racial hostilities.

A sequential transformative mixed methods design was used to survey and interview participants. In the quantitative component, three surveys—Nadal’s Racial and Ethnic Nadal (2011) Microaggressions Scale (REMS), Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (SES) and Schwarzer and Jerusalem’s General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) — were administered to 112 Indigenous students. In the qualitative component, a semistructured interview was conducted with 12 participants. A Pearson Correlation coefficient was ascertained to assess the relationship between microaggressions and Indigenous students while emotion coding was utilized to capture themes from students’ accounts. Findings suggested that Indigenous students experience six principal types of microaggressions contained in the REMS, with assumptions of inferiority and microinvalidations named most commonly by participants. Results showed negative associations between three components of the REMS and students’ self-esteem, while a negative correlation was observed for five of the six components of the REMS and self-efficacy. Students’ lived narratives revealed the profound manifestations of oppression they endure in their academic environment. Responses to microaggressions were described by participants as those of resilience, pride, and affirmation of identity. Students’ accounts revealed that their main coping mechanism to hostilities refers prominently to family support as they pursue academic endeavors. A key recommendation coming from the study suggests creating space where both Indigenous students and university officials can learn about and understand how microaggressions can affect on-campus experiences.



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