Personal Development Well-Being

This SGL can be submitted to your employee training record.

1. What it is

Understanding how microaggressions impact individuals, workplaces, and classrooms is essential for fostering a respectful and inclusive environment. 

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, non-verbal exchanges whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (e.g., race/ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion).  Sue, Derald Wing, Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation, Wiley & Sons, 2010.

What you will learn from this module:

  • How to define and describe microaggressions
  • Understand how microaggressions impact individuals, work and class environments
  • Learn strategies for responding to and intervening microaggressions 

First, watch this short video that gives a simple explanation of what microaggressions are and the impact they have on an individual:  How Micro-Aggressions are Like Mosquito Bites (transcript).



2. What I know

How would you describe what a microaggression looks like, feels like, sounds like?

  • Take a moment to think about your response.

Now, take a look at how microaggressions can show up in our actions and words at work, in the classroom, and overall in everyday life. 

Take a moment to think about those examples. Have you been impacted by any of those microaggression examples? Have you ever done or said any of those examples? What surprised you from those examples?


Intent and impact can have different meanings as shown in those examples.

3. How I can improve

There are strategies you can use right away to prevent, interrupt, and address microaggressions in your everyday life.

If you have other strategies that have worked for you, add them to your print-outs below.

  • Use strategies from this handout:  Interrupting Microaggressions - download PDF.
  • Read this article for strategies to address microaggressions in an online learning environment during a pandemic.

What to avoid doing if you are in a leadership position (instructor, manager) 

  • Taking a passive approach and letting the class direct the discussion.
  • Disengaging from the conversation by accepting superficial responses or dismissing the topic.
  • Responding with hostility.
  • Looking to marginalized students/instructors to be experts on issues related to their identity group.
  • Giving full attention to the person who said the microaggression while ignoring the target(s) of the microaggression.
  • Focusing on (or allowing a focus on) debates about:
    - The intent of the micro-aggressor
    - What each person said or did
    - Who’s right or wrong

4. What I have learned 

Take a moment to reflect on what you learned in this course by answering these questions:

  • How would you define and describe microaggressions?
  • In what ways do microaggressions impact individuals, work and class environments?
  • What are 2-4 strategies for responding to and intervening microaggressions?

5. Course Evaluation

Thank you for completing this module. Please click on the link below to complete the module evaluation. Your feedback will help guide future planning and improvements. We greatly appreciate your input. 

Self-Guided Learning Evaluation

6. Training Completion Form

If you are a current UMass employee, please submit the Training Completion Form only after you complete the Self-Guided Learning Module selected.

By submitting this form, you confirm that you have completed that Self-Guided Learning Module. We will then be able to record your successful completion in your University learning and development transcript.