Na'ilah Suad Nasir's research centers on how issues of culture and race influence the learning, achievement, and educational trajectories of African American and other non-dominant students in urban school and community settings. She is interested in the intertwining of social and cultural contexts (cultural practices, institutions, communities, societies) and the learning and educational trajectories of individuals, especially in connection with inequity in educational outcomes. Specific studies have focused on the nature of mathematical thinking and learning for African American students in practices outside of school, such as basketball and dominoes; relations between racial/ ethnic identity and mathematics learning and achievement in a diverse urban high school; the nature of connection and disconnection for African American high school students (and the role the institutional structures of the school played in these processes); racial/ethnic identities and stereotypes of African American students. She is also interested in marginalized students' experiences of teaching and learning in juvenile hall schools.
Professor Nasir was the recipient of the Spencer Dissertation Fellowship in 1998, and the Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2002. From 2000 to 2008, she was an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Stanford University, where she won the St. Claire Drake Teaching Award in 2007. In 2006, she won the Early Career Researcher Award from Division G of the American Educational Research Association. Her work has been published in Anthropology and Education Quarterly, the American Educational Research Journal, and Educational Researcher.