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DeLeon Gray

Associate Professor, Educational Psychology and Equity

Poe Hall 602K

Research Description

DeLeon Gray is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Equity in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. He was recently a Scholar-in-Residence in Michigan State University's College of Education, and has previously held appointments at the Association for Psychological Science, the American Institutes for Research, and the National Institutes of Health. He aims to support educators, parents, leaders, and mentors in unpacking the concept of motivation, and works jointly with them to disrupt structural aspects of schooling environments that leave marginalized students vulnerable to anxieties about belonging.

His program of research has been recognized by receipt of prestigious honors including a 2018 Best Article Award for his collaborative publication in Educational Psychologist entitled, "Black and Belonging at School: A Case for Interpersonal, Instructional, and Institutional Opportunity Structures." In 2015, he was featured in Black Enterprise Magazine as one of 100 men of color who are "living up to a standard of excellence and using their talents and influence in their respective industries to shift the perception of men of color to create and encourage a positive narrative." Most recently, he received the Change Agent Award of Appreciation from St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC for his exceptional work predominantly Black schools, and as named a University Faculty Scholar at NC State. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) (B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies) and The Ohio State University (M.A., Quantitative Research, Evaluation, and Measurement; Ph.D., Educational Psychology). DeLeon is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (initiated Fall 2003), and enjoys bowling, karaoke, being a master of Connect 4, and having a winning fantasy football team.


Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology from The Ohio State University
Master of Arts in Quantitative Research, Evaluation, and Measurement from The Ohio State University
Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychological Foundations of Education) from University of Maryland - Baltimore County (UMBC)



Selected Scholarly Publications

  • Gray, D. L., McElveen, T. L., Bryant, L. H., & Green, B. P. (2020). Engaging Black and Latinx Students through Communal Learning Opportunities: A Relevance Intervention for Middle Schoolers in STEM Elective Classrooms. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 60, 1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2019.101833
  • Gray, D. L., Hope, E., & Byrd, C. M. (2020). Why Black adolescents are vulnerable at school and how schools can provide opportunities to belong to fix it. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 7(1), 3-9. doi: 10.1177/2372732219868744
  • Gray, D. L., Hope, E., Matthews, J. S. (2018). Black and Belonging at School: A Case for Interpersonal, Instructional, and Institutional Opportunity Structures. Educational Psychologist, 53(2), 97-113. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2017.1421466
  • Gray, D. L. (2017). Is psychological membership in the classroom a function of standing out while fitting in? Implications for achievement motivation and emotions. Journal of School Psychology, 61, 103-121. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2017.02.001
  • Gray, D. L. (2014). Understanding STEM-focused high school students’ perceptions of task importance: The role of “standing out” and “fitting in” in mathematics class. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 39, 29-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2013.12.001

Courses Taught

  •  School Belonging
  •  Motivation in Education
  •  Applied Quantitative Methods in Education (Part I)
  •  Applied Quantitative Methods in Education (Part II)
  •  Serving Historically Marginalized Populations through Practice-Relevant School Partnerships

Research Areas