Scaling Up Social-Psychological Interventions to Combat Stereotype Threat and Narrow Achievement Gaps: Enduring Impacts

This work addresses closing the academic performance gaps that separate African and Hispanic American students and white students and students of lower and higher socioeconomic status. 

One particularly compelling line of research concerns the idea of “stereotype threat.”  Stereotype threat is the apprehension students and others experience when confronted with a personally relevant stereotype that threatens their social identity or self-esteem. The phenomenon could help explain group differences on standardized tests and in school.

Stereotype threat is predicated on the notion that people often fear behaving in a way that fits the negative cultural image associated with a group stereotype, thereby marking them as racially inferior. This largely unconscious fear elicits anxiety and other counterproductive responses that can severely interfere with one’s thinking and performance in evaluative situations like standardized tests or classroom situations that test one’s abilities.

This randomized trial of self-affirmation writing exercises designed to combat stereotype threat, addresses the following primary research questions:

Do the affirmation and boundary-blurring writing exercises impact students’ grades and achievement relative to control students from the neutral writing condition?

Does one intervention (i.e., affirmation or boundary-blurring writing exercises) impact students’ grades and achievement more than the other?

Do the affirmation and boundary-blurring interventions close the gaps in academic grade and test performance between minority and white students?

Does one intervention (i.e., affirmation or boundary-blurring writing exercises) close the gaps in student performance between minority and white students more than the other?

Do the affirmation and boundary-blurring interventions decrease students’ reported stereotype vulnerability relative to control students from the neutral writing condition?

Does one intervention (i.e., affirmation or boundary-blurring writing exercises) decrease students’ reported stereotype vulnerability more than the other?

 


Leadership

Geoffrey Borman

Status

Completed on July 31, 2016