Brittany Mihalec-AdkinsFullbright Student

Educational Psychology | Master's Degree 
Undergraduate Institution | Purdue University 
Hometown | Fort Wayne, IN

While studying abroad in The Netherlands as a sophomore, current M.S.Ed. student Brittany Mihalec-Adkins learned that Dutch students are filed into one of three tiers of schooling—a system known as “tracking.” In this system, a student’s educational set has the power to determine their subsequent access to higher education. Yet cultural biases may create disparities in educators’ attitudes toward students of different backgrounds—and right now, there are significant tensions between native Dutch and North African immigrants. Could the implicit biases of Dutch educators be linked with the current underrepresentation of non-native Dutch students in higher education? That’s what Brittany hopes to find by completing a 9-month research study in primary schools in Amsterdam, where she will compare instructors’ implicit racial biases with academic outcomes of students of culturally marginalized groups. Brittany is applying for a research grant through the U.S. Student Fulbright Program.

Brittany traces much of her curiosity and determination to seek answers to complex societal questions to studies in law and society in the College of Liberal Arts, which gave her the opportunity to learn about societal structures that influence the outcomes of various groups within a society. She notes that sociology enabled her to develop a “big-picture” mentality while examining individual-level consequences of social structures.

As a 2015 graduate in psychological sciences and law and society, Brittany’s interest in studying the Dutch tracking system has grown out of several personally significant research experiences as an undergraduate and her current work as a master’s student in educational psychology at Purdue. Working with Dr. Margo Monteith, a professor of psychology at Purdue, Brittany has co-published articles in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice and also in Social Psychological and Personality Science. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant in the Stereotyping and Prejudice Lab in the Department of Psychology, Inspire Research Institute of the School of Engineering Education, and the Psychology Research Experience Program, funded by the National Science Foundation, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has also presented projects at a variety of conferences throughout the United States.

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