Toxic Rain in Class: Classroom Interpersonal Microaggressions

Carola Suárez-Orozco, Saskias Casanova, Margary Martin, Dalal Katsiaficas, Veronica Cuellar, Naila Antonia Smith, Sandra Isabel Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


In this article we share exploratory findings from a study that captures microaggressions (MAs) in vivo to shed light on how they occur in classrooms. These brief and commonplace indignities communicate derogatory slights and insults toward individuals of underrepresented status contributing to invalidating and hostile learning experiences. Our aim is to expand the ways in which we research and think about MAs in educational settings. Our data are drawn from structured observations of 60 diverse classrooms on three community college campuses. Our findings provide evidence that classroom MAs occur frequently—in nearly 30% of the observed community college classrooms. Although cultural/racial as well as gendered MAs were observed, the most frequent types of MAs were those that undermined the intelligence and competence of students. MAs were more likely to be delivered on campuses with the highest concentration of minority students and were most frequently delivered by instructors. We conclude by reflecting on the implications of these events for classroom climate and make recommendations for both future research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 15 2015


  • colleges
  • descriptive analysis
  • diversity
  • ethnography
  • higher education
  • mixed methods
  • multiculturalism
  • professional development
  • qualitative research
  • research methodology
  • social context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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