Faculty Spotlight: Kaitlin McCormick-Huhn

Friday, March 8, 2019
Kaitlin McCormick-Huhn

What's the most important thing you are working on right now?

Right now, I am working on two intervention projects that I am especially excited about. In one, I am examining a game-based intervention that I designed for the business workplace and measuring its effects on attitude change and behaviors to reduce bias. An important element of this work is that we compare the effectiveness of this new intervention to trainings developed by Google for use in workplaces. Our findings suggest the importance of considering theory in intervention design and of evaluating the effectiveness of interventions before implementing them in workplaces. In the second project, in collaboration with Boyd Professor Sylvia Lazos and Patrice Leverett, I am training school administrators from Clark County School District on the role of implicit racial bias in discipline decision-making. Nationally, and in Clark County, rates of discipline are disproportionately higher for Black children than for children of other racial groups. An important element of this research is that we are able to measure changes in schools’ actual rates of racial disproportionality in discipline before and after the training, in addition to measuring implicit bias attitude change.

How does your research and scholarship influence your teaching and vice versa?

This semester, I am teaching a course entitled Gender, Race, and Class. This is an introductory, undergraduate course in the Interdisciplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies Department, in which many of the students are freshman. The course covers a number of complex topics including intersectionality, social construction, and systems of oppression. Teaching this course has pushed me to think of ways to make such topics accessible, a goal very compatible with the aims of my intervention research. Often, my students’ insights in the classroom teach me new things about the topics that I research. Additionally, I am able to use activities from my intervention scholarship in the classroom to teach about issues such as privilege and microaggressions through active-learning.

What have you read, listened to, or watched recently that has influenced you or your work?

Watching comedy hosts like Trevor Noah and John Oliver tackle discussions of prejudice, privilege, and other complex issues has made me consider the role of comedy in engaging people with social issues. So far, thinking about this has encouraged me to include a comic’s stand-up act on reverse racism in class for discussion. For my research, I am also now thinking about the possible role of humor in intervention as means to encourage people to think about and discuss bias with others. 

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