Stereotype threat's effect on black students' academic achievement

August, 2011

Another study on the dramatic impact of stereotype threat on academic achievement, and how you can counter it.

In a two-part experiment, Black and White students studied the definitions of 24 obscure English words, and were later tested, in threatening or non-threatening environments. In the threatening study environment, students were told that the task would assess their "learning abilities and limitations" and "how well people from different backgrounds learn”. In the non-threatening environment, students were told that the study focused on identifying "different learning styles". When tested one to two weeks later, students were first given a low-stress warm-up exercise with half of the word definitions. Then, in order to evoke concerns about stereotypes, a test was given which was described as evaluating "your ability to learn verbal information and your performance on problems requiring verbal reasoning ability".

The effect of these different environments on the Black students was dramatic. On the non-threatening warm-up test, Black students who had studied in the threatening learning environment performed about 50% worse than Black students who had studied in the non-threatening environment. But on the ‘real’ test, for which stereotypes had been evoked, all the Blacks — including those who had done fine on the warm-up — did poorly.

In the second experiment, only Black students were involved, and they all studied in the threatening environment. This time, however, half of the students were asked to begin with a "value affirmation" exercise, during which they chose values that mattered most to them and explained why. The other students were asked to write about a value that mattered little to them. A week later, students did the warm-up and the test. Black students who had written about a meaningful value scored nearly 70% better on the warm-up than black students who had written about other values.

Reference: 

[2348] Taylor, V J., & Walton G. M.
(2011).  Stereotype Threat Undermines Academic Learning.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 37(8), 1055 - 1067.

Related News

A British study looking at possible gender differences in the effects of math anxiety involved 433 secondary school children (11-16 years old) completing customized (year appropriate) mental mathematics tests as well as questionnaires designed to assess math anxiety and (separately) test anxiety

I’ve mentioned before that, for some few people, exercise doesn’t seem to have a benefit, and the benefits of exercise for fighting age-related cognitive decline may not apply to those carrying the Alzheimer’s gene.

A study involving 75 perimenopausal women aged 40 to 60 has found that those with memory complaints tended to show impairments in

The study involved 1,292 children followed from birth, whose cortisol levels were assessed at 7, 15, and 24 months. Three tests related to executive functions were given at age 3.

When a middle-aged woman loses her memory after sex, it naturally makes the headlines. Many might equate this sort of headline to “Man marries alien”, but this is an example of a rare condition — temporary, you will be relieved to hear — known as transient global amnesia.

The brain tends to shrink with age, with different regions being more affected than others. Atrophy of the

A recent study of cancer survivors has found that many survivors still suffer moderate to severe problems with pain, fatigue, sleep, memory and concentration three to five years after treatment has ended.

As I’ve discussed on many occasions, a critical part of attention (and

A study involving 200 older adults (70+) experiencing a stay in hospital has found that at discharge nearly a third (31.5%) had previously unrecognized low cognitive function (scoring below 25 on the MMSE if high-school-educated, or below 18 if not).

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news