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We report an attempt to make an optical observation of Matt scattering, involving the first studies of inelastic collisions between polarized electrons and a heavy noble gas. Polarization fractions of light emitted by the 5p56p[5/7],(3D3) state of Xe following impact excitation in an axial collision geometry were measured as a funclion of the incident electron energy, and compared with distorted-wave Bom calculations. The theoretical and experimental results agree qualitatively in the energy range where cascade contributions to the photon signal are small. We failed to measure non-zero values of the linear polarization fraction η1. which would have constituted unambiguous evidence for Matt scattering and/or the importance of higher-order excitation processes in this system.