MSU graduate student’s research recognized by national agricultural education association

MSU graduate student’s research recognized by national agricultural education association
Photo by: Megan Bean

A Mississippi State graduate student is being honored by the American Association for Agricultural Education for excellence in research.

Christien B. Russell of Louisville, Kentucky, has received a Distinguished Research Poster award for her study titled "Culturally Responsive Teaching: Experiences of Underrepresented Students." She is an agricultural science doctoral student concentrating in agricultural and extension education.

The recognition was presented at the AAAE's annual conference in Des Moines, Iowa, that Russell was able to attend with a Graduate Student Travel Assistance Grant from MSU's Graduate School. She also received support from the School of Human Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Carla Jagger, assistant professor in MSU's School of Human Sciences, is the principal investigator who has guided Russell's research.

Abbigail E. Petersen, a spring 2019 MSU agricultural education, leadership and communications bachelor's graduate from Loleta, California, also contributed to the research project.

Michael Newman, MSU professor and director of the university's School of Human Sciences, is serving a one-year term as AAAE president. He said the organization provides "wonderful" opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to share their research and innovative projects, and network with other students and faculty from across the country.

"We are proud of Christien for receiving a distinguished research poster award at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education," he said. "I know Christien made contacts at the conference who will help her for many years to come."

Russell said culturally responsive teaching surfaced around the early 1990s and has been more recently studied during the last decade. The purpose of her MSU study is to identify and describe the experiences of minority postsecondary students related to culturally responsive teaching, and examine the aspects that make students feel included and excluded when culturally responsive teaching is and is not present.

Russell said she and her fellow researchers used focus group methodology to collect qualitative data from postsecondary underrepresented minority students at MSU, and they plan to conduct classroom observations of instructors—identified by participants—who display culturally responsive teaching. These observations, Russell said, will help researchers further explore and describe this type of teaching and provide vivid examples for current and prospective teachers.

"Overall, the results of this study can benefit all educators as we continue to see more diverse classroom audiences," she said. "By incorporating simple gestures, like varying examples from multiple perspectives and cultures or building rapport with all our learners, we can make strides to a more inclusive environment."

AAAE members work to foster excellence in the discovery and exchange of evidence-based solutions for social science challenges in agriculture and related sciences. For more, visit

For more on MSU's Graduate School, visit; School of Human Sciences,

Dated: 6/13/2019