Microaggression Activity

This activity teaches students to recognize how different audiences can interpret language and microaggressions. It teaches students to understand the implications of their speech.


Students will learn to identify microaggressions and will be able to reflect on how they can modify questions or comments in ways that are less likely to reflect stereotypic assumptions and beliefs. Using two versions of the worksheet provides more examples for students to consider, but the activity works equally well with either version.

Estimated Time

10-20 minutes

Group Size

This activity works best with a class size of 30 or fewer, but could be modified for larger class by having students work in groups.  For larger classes, the instructor can rotate among the groups during discussion and/or have teaching assistants facilitate discussion in the smaller groups.


This activity will be more effective if the instructor first defines microaggressions and provides examples of how they operate.  Then, pass out the worksheets so that different groups have different versions of the activity. (There are five possible versions.)  Ask students to follow the provided instructions. Students then answer the discussion questions and discuss them in small groups or as a whole class. A sheet with suggested interpretations, possible intent, and possible impact is also provided for Instructor use. We thank Angela Linse, Executive Director and Associate Dean of the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Pennsylvania State University creating this list, for suggesting additional microaggressions, and for providing other feedback on this activity.