Trending Topic Research File: Affirmative Action


Affirmative Action

Trending Topic Research File

Despite two Supreme Court rulings on the issue since 2013, the future of affirmative action in college admissions is still being debated, and it remains one of the most contentious issues in American higher education. In recent years, AERA’s journals have examined many aspects of affirmative action, including:

  • Educational, cognitive, and social benefits of diversity
  • Factors essential to a positive campus racial climate
  • Impact of state bans and court rulings

The following compendium of open-access articles are inclusive of all substantive AERA journal content regarding affirmative action published since 2009. This page will be updated as new articles are published. 

AERA Journal Articles

Note: Articles are listed below in reverse chronological order of publication. 

Asian Americans, Admissions, and College Choice: An Empirical Test of Claims of Harm Used in Federal Investigations
Mike Hoa Nguyen, Connie Y. Chang, Victoria Kim, Rose Ann E. Gutierrez, Annie Le, Denis Dumas, Robert T. Teranishi
Educational Researcher, August 2020.
Researchers found a limited statistical difference, if any, between Asian American groups that attend differing choice institutions.

Long-Run Changes in Underrepresentation After Affirmative Action Bans in Public Universities
Mark C. Long, Nicole A. Bateman
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, April 2020.
Researchers found that the elimination of affirmative action has led to persistent declines in the share of underrepresented minorities among students admitted to and enrolling in public flagship universities in the states studied.

Disability Identification and Educational Accommodations: Lessons From the 2019 Admissions Scandal
Benjamin J. Lovett
Educational Researcher, January 2020.
Researchers found that the methods used to obtain fraudulent diagnoses of learning disabilities and accommodations on college admissions tests illustrate widespread problems with current policies.

Pathways to Racial Equity in Higher Education: Modeling the Antecedents of State Affirmative Action Bans
Dominique J. Baker
American Educational Research Journal, March 2019.
The study found that scarcity of access to state public flagship institutions and policy diffusion are associated with affirmative action ban adoption.

Affirming Race, Diversity, and Equity Through Black and Latinx Students' Lived Experiences
Rican Vue, Siduri Jayaram Haslerig, Walter R. Allen
American Educational Research Journal, May 2017.
This study uses critical race theory to examine how high-achieving Black and Latinx college students make meaning of and navigate affirmative action policy discourses in an era of colorblind racial policies

Beyond Declines in Student Body Diversity: How Campus-Level Administrators Understand a Prohibition on Race-Conscious Postsecondary Admissions Policies
Liliana M. Garces, Courtney D. Cogburn  
American Educational Research Journal, October 2015.
Researchers found that the implementation of an affirmative action ban at the University of Michigan contributed to declines in student body diversity and negatively influenced work critical to the success of students of color.

Balancing Liberty and Equality: Justice Kennedy’s Decisive Vote in Fisher v. University of Texas, Part II
Liliana M. Garces  
Educational Researcher, October 2015.
This essay considers the potential ramifications of the Supreme Court’s review of Fisher v. University of Texas, Austin with a specific focus on Justice Kennedy’s positions in previous cases to determine how he may vote.

Changes in Levels of Affirmative Action in College Admissions in Response to Statewide Bans and Judicial Rulings
Grant H. Blume, Mark C. Long  
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2014.
The researchers have produced the first empirical estimates using national-level data to show the extent to which levels of affirmative action in college admissions decisions have changed during the period of 1992 to 2004.

Dynamic Diversity: Toward a Contextual Understanding of Critical Mass
Liliana M. Garces, Uma M. Jayakumar  
Educational Researcher, March 2014.
The concept of critical mass, which has become central in litigation efforts related to affirmative action admissions policies, is highlighted by the authors’ definition of dynamic diversity in this article.

Diversity ≠ Inclusion: Promoting Integration in Higher Education
Marta Tienda 
Educational Researcher,  December 2013.
The author argues that enrollment of a diverse student body should be only the first step toward the goal of broader social inclusion by focusing on organizational strategies and practices that promote meaningful social and academic interactions among students who differ in their experiences, views, and traits.

Does Socioeconomic  Diversity Make a Difference? Examining the Effects of Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity on the Campus Climate for Diversity
Julie J. Park, Nida Denson, Nicholas A. Bowman  
American Educational Research Journal, June 2013.
The authors’ findings indicate that both socioeconomic and racial diversity are essential to promoting a positive campus racial climate.

Affirmative Action Hanging in the Balance: Giving Voice to the Research Community in the Supreme Court
Gary Orfield  
Educational Researcher, April 2013.
An essay calling to provide the Supreme Court the best research findings the country can offer when the rights of U.S. students of color are at stake.

AERA et al. Amicus Brief: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
Educational Researcher April 2013
The American Educational Research Association, along with six other organizations, submitted this brief in support of the respondents in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case in the Supreme Court of the United States.  

Understanding the Impact of Affirmative Action Bans in Different Graduate Fields of Study
Liliana M. Garces  
American Educational Research Journal, January 2013
Examining the effects of affirmative action bans in four states, this study finds that affirmative action bans have led to reductions in underrepresented minority participation in science-related fields.

When the Majority Rules: Ballot Initiatives, Race-Conscious Education Policy, and the Public Good
Michele S. Moses, Lauren P. Saenz  
Review of Research in Education, March 2012.
The authors explore how the policies affected by direct democratic ballot initiatives, such as affirmative action, affect the common good.

Moral and Instrumental Rationales for Affirmative Action in Five National Contexts
Michele S. Moses  
Educational Researcher, April 2010.
The author clarifies the differing rationales for affirmative action in France, India, South Africa, the United States, and Brazil using examining social contexts and philosophical analysis.

College Diversity Experiences and Cognitive Development: A Meta-Analysis
Nicholas A. Bowman  
Review of Research in Education, March 2010.
This study uses meta-analysis to examine the relationship between college diversity experiences and cognitive development.

Minority Student Academic Performance Under the Uniform Admission Law: Evidence From the University of Texas at Austin
Sunny X. Niu, Marta Tienda  
Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2010.
The authors examine University of Texas at Austin administrative data from three regimes: affirmative action (1990-1996), no rank or preference (1997) and top 10% sans race preference (1998-2004), finding that high school attended rather than test score is largely responsible for racial differences in college performance.

Racial Diversity Matters: The Impact of Diversity-Related Student Engagement and Institutional Context
Nida Denson, Mitchell J. Chang
American Educational Research Journal, June 2009.
Results from this study suggest that the benefits associated with diversity may be more far-reaching than previously documented.