Methods: This study used qualitative data collected from 12 graduate students in a variety of disciplines who participated in a course on racial trauma. A total of 10 participants engaged in qualitative interviews and 2 participants were in a focus group. A trained master-level individual conducted the semi-structured interviews and a focus group. Interviews lasted between 45 and 60 minutes and the focus group lasted 90 minutes. All qualitative data were digitally recorded and transcribed. Nvivo 12 qualitative software was used for data management. Using an iterative process, three researchers collaborated to develop a codebook and trained research assistants coded data. Emergent themes were systematically identified as informed by grounded theory methods. Inter-rater reliability was achieved when coding reached 67% agreement.
Results: Participants reported that several teaching strategies helped them cope with feelings of distress while learning about racial trauma. The evidence-based instructional strategies included: creating ground rules; providing a guided handout designed using evidence-based teaching methods; designating class time for reflection; and using course time for small group discussions. The distress tolerance activities included: practicing validation and feeling identification; and belly breathing.
Conclusion: Teaching about racial trauma is complex and requires the incorporation of evidence-based teaching strategies and distress tolerance activities to minimize distress in participants. Results from this study suggest that there are a variety of teaching strategies students identified as beneficial when coping with distress while learning about racial trauma.