Destini Braxton

Ph.D. Student, School of Education
Program Area: Educational Psychology

Destini Braxton, a 2019-20 VCU Holmes Scholar.


  • Ph.D. (expected May 2023) in Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • M.Ed. in Special Education for General Curriculum K-12, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • B.S. in Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University

Line of Research

My line of research is motivation, academic identity, and teacher-student relationships for students with learning disabilities belonging to underrepresented groups in mathematics. I examine how motivational beliefs, academic identity, and teacher-student relationships impact the determination of students with disabilities belonging to underrepresented groups in mathematics, positively addressing the underrepresentation of the underrepresented students with learning disabilities in mathematics.

Research and Scholarship

  • Nicolai, K.D., Koenka, A.C., & Braxton, D. (manuscript proposal submitted). Differential feedback, its motivational consequences, and evidence-based strategies. Theory into Practice.
  • Nicolai, K.D., Koenka, A.C., & Braxton, D. (2020, October). Differential and Adaptive Feedback: Defined and Explained. 2020 Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium Conference at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.
  • Furman, J., Zumbrunn, S., Marrs, S., Kamat, P., Braxton, D., Ekholm, E., Broda, M. (2020, August 6-8). Exploring Elementary Student Writing Motivation and Success [poster presentation canceled]. Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association. Washington, D.C.
  • Braxton, D. (2020, February). Self-Worth Theory Perspective: Understanding Academic and Motivational Beliefs in Special Education and General Education Mathematics Classrooms. Round Table Presentation at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education – Holmes Scholars Preconference. Atlanta, GA.
  • Hoetger, C., Braxton, D., Cogley, J., Barnes, A., & Cobb, C. (2017, June). Effects of exposure to tobacco product promotions on the susceptibility to electronic cigarette use among smokers and nonsmokers. Poster presented at the Massey Cancer Research Retreat, Richmond, VA.
  • Wall, C.S.J., Braxton, D., Cogley, J., Barnes, A., Cobb, C.O. (2017, June). Is online electronic cigarette advertising targeting youth and young adults? Evidence from website location and spending data. Poster Presented at the Massey Cancer Center Research Retreat, Richmond, VA.
  • Braxton, D., Cogley, J., Bhatt, S., Sey, N., Khan, M., Hoetger, C., Rudy, A., Barnes, A., & Cobb, C. Electronic Cigarette TV and Online Video Advertisement. Poster presented at: 12th Annual Poster Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity at Virginia Commonwealth University; April 19th, 2017; Richmond, VA.
  • Sey, N., Bhatt, S., Braxton, D., Cogley, J., Khan, M., Rudy, A., Barnes, A., & Cobb, C. Developing a Content Analysis Protocol for Electronic Cigarette TV and Online Video Advertising. Poster presentation given at: VCU Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Closing Symposium; November 4, 2016; Richmond, VA.


Destini Braxton is a second-year doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education in the educational psychology track. She received her master’s degree in special education and undergraduate degree in psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently a third-year special education math teacher at a middle school in Richmond. Her research interests focus on the development of academic identity and teacher-student relationships and the effects it has on motivation and academic performance in mathematics. Another area of interest is underrepresented racial communities' academic performance and motivation in mathematics, with a focus on students with learning disabilities. Destini's areas of research have stemmed from her personal experiences as both a minority student in education and a teacher, where 100 percent of the student population receives free lunch in an urban environment. She is interested in conducting research that brings to the forefront (a) how race, ethnicity and culture can affect academic identity, teacher-student relationships, and motivation; and (b) the implications of these relations for fostering equity and inclusion in special education. At Virginia Commonwealth University, she was the Community Service Chair and Treasurer of the Epsilon Zeta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., and gained leadership experience.

What does the Holmes Scholars program mean to you?

The Holmes Scholars program allows me to confidently display my authentic self, as a woman of color pursuing my Ph.D. It also allows me to build relationships and collaborate with other scholars who may – or may not – share my same research interests. Lastly, the program gives me the drive to get out of my comfort zone as a student and future researcher, and enhance my leadership skills for the professional world.

Curriculum Vitae