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Reducing Stereotype Threat in Classrooms and Schools Francesca López & Martin Scanlan Marquette University.

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Presentation on theme: "Reducing Stereotype Threat in Classrooms and Schools Francesca López & Martin Scanlan Marquette University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reducing Stereotype Threat in Classrooms and Schools Francesca López & Martin Scanlan Marquette University

2 Goal: Examine how research on growth mindset & stereotype threat can be woven into planning & implementing TWI in your school.

3 Objective: Identify specific ways to reduce stereotype threat amongst students, families, and colleagues within your school as well as within TWIN-CS. Guiding questions (action planning) 1.What are some initial ways that we can work to reduce stereotype threat in our school community? 2.What are our ideas about further learning that we want to pursue in these two areas of growth mindset and stereotype threat?

4 The Minority-White GapPrison: Blacks and Latinos vastly overrepresented College: Only 35% of Latinos are enrolled High School: 15% drop out rate; 2 X more than AA K-12 Lower standardized test scores and grades Birth-Preschool Nearly equal ability test scores

5 Common Misunderstandings for Group Differences 1. Genetic arguments of lower innate intelligence --The Bell Curve --Biological differences in math ability 2. Poverty (lower skills and preparation)

6 All of the traditional explanations fall short of explaining the gap, even when combined; something else must be involved… This “underperformance” is part of a performance gap not due to gaps in skills and knowledge between groups, but something that has eluded explanation.

7 Part One: What is stereotype threat?

8 “Human intelligence is among the most fragile things in nature. It doesn’t take much to distract it, suppress it, or even annihilate it.” --Neil Postman Intelligence is Fragile

9 The Fragility of Intelligence Stereotype Threat/ Identity threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995)

10 Stereotype/Identity Threat Apprehension among members of a group of reinforcing arising from the awareness of a negative stereotype or personal reputation in a situation where the stereotype or identity is relevant, and thus confirmable In schools, primarily about intellectual ability

11 Stereotype Threat : No Explicit Bigotry Required

12 Stereotype Threat Anecdotal Evidence “When I talk in class, I feel as though I’m totally on stage, like everyone’s thinking, ‘oh what’s the Black girl going to say?’ But I don’t speak up in class much anymore, so I guess it’s not a big deal.” —Stanford Undergraduate

13 Stereotype Threat Anecdotal Evidence “Group work was a nightmare. I could tell that no one thought my ideas were any good because I’m Latina.” —NYU Undergraduate “Everyone expects me to be good at math because I’m Asian, so I feel extra stupid because I’m not so good at math.” —NYU Undergrad

14 “Conditional Stupidity” (video)video

15 Activity List qualities shared by men and women Math performance amongst women rose; Math performance amongst men unchanged

16 Method: Reducing Evaluative Scrutiny Measure: Blacks’ and Whites’ Verbal GRE Performance Steele & Aronson (1995). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. A) Laboratory Experiment on Stereotype Threat

17 Verbal Test Performance

18 ST: “The test is a test of intelligence.” NST: “This is just a general skills test—not a test of intelligence.”

19 Method: Inducing the Relevance of Race Measure: Blacks’ and Whites’ Verbal GRE Performance Steele & Aronson (1995) B) Laboratory Experiment on Stereotype Threat

20 Verbal Test Performance

21 AIR: Participants bubbled in their corresponding race NAIR: No question about race was asked

22 C) Math Test Performance of College Men and Women (Spencer, Steele & Quinn, 1999)

23 Math Test Performance Of College Men and Women (Spencer, Steele & Quinn, 1999) Women and men matched on math ability per SAT. Control group took math test; NGD group was told, “We have not seen gender differences on this particular test.”

24 Additional Studies Finding Performance Effects Latinos taking verbal tests Elderly taking short-term memory tests Low SES Students taking verbal tests Blacks and Miniature Golf Women taking tests of Political Knowledge, Driving, Chess White males taking tests of social sensitivity White Males Taking Math Tests

25 E) Educational Testing Service Field Study: Asking About Gender before or After Before Taking AP

26 ETS Field Study: Asking Gender Before Taking AP Calculus (Stricker, 2002). Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

27 Educational Testing Service Study: AP Calculus Test IB: Students bubbled in gender PRIOR to exam IA: Students bubbled in gender AFTER exam

28 Danaher and Crandall (2008) Reanalysis of ETS Study “Women benefited substantially on the calculus test when demographics were asked after testing rather than before. This simple, small, and inexpensive change could increase U.S. women receiving AP Calculus AB credit by more than 4,300 every year.”

29 General Conclusions from 300 Studies One need not believe the stereotype is true to feel the pressure to disprove it (heart rate study), but believing appears to increase ST ST can affect even those students with lots of ability and lots of confidence in their abilities, from any group, in any setting Stereotype threat can arise as a function of grouping alone, integrated groups trigger it Underperformance mediated by stress and anxiety, reduced working memory capacity, and reduced self-regulation capacity Stereotype threat influences GPA as well as immediate performance

30 –Acceptance of the stereotype as maybe true –Expectations of prejudice –Belief that tests are biased against minorities; mistrust –High levels of academic engagement--Caring Stereotype Vulnerability: Risk Factors for Underperformance

31 "No circle is more vicious than the one having to do with intelligence. Children who may be only a little behind their peers to begin with tend to avoid those things that could have made them a little smarter. As a result they fall further and further behind. Meanwhile the kids who started out a little ahead are doing push-ups with their brains.” Judith Rich Harris From Vulnerability to Inability

32 Avoidance of Challenge/practice Academic Self-concept/Ambiguity Disidentification/Disengagement Lower Ability Chronic Stereotype Vulnerability Can lead to Lower Ability

33 Part Two: Reducing Stereotype Threat

34 Key Strategies 1. Foster expansive notions of intelligence and growth mindset 2. Normalize experiences of difficulty 3. Promote awareness of stereotype threat 4. Provide “wise criticism” in formative feedback

35 1) Foster expansive notions of intelligence and growth mindset “The mind is much more like a muscle than we’ve ever realized… it needs to get cognitive exercise. It’s not some piece of clay on which you put an indelible mark.” James Flynn, intelligence expert, 2007

36 Are you an entity theorist? Or an incremental theorist? Do you believe ability is fixed; you either have it or you don’t? OR Do you believe ability is malleable; you can change it with effort? Questions

37 What if you were led to believe ability is malleable? Would it reduce effects of stereotype threat? Method: Framing test as a measure of a fixed or a malleable ability Measure: Blacks’ and Whites’ Test Performance Experiment

38 Results 7 th grade students taught about incremental theory of intelligence showed significant positive effect on math scores when compared to control group

39 Implications How can you foster expansive notions of intelligence and growth mindsets Amongst: -Students -Colleagues -Parents -Others Within: -Implementation Team -School -TWIN-CS

40 2) Normalize experiences of difficulty Middle School: A field Intervention: Question: Can psychological intervention raise test scores of minority students? Method: mentoring study; attitude change Conditions: –Malleability of intelligence –Role Models: senior students who stress the normality of early difficulty –Control (drug abuse message) Measure: Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS)

41 7th Grade Girls’ Math TAAS Good, Aronson & Inzlicht (2003) Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

42 7th Grade Girls’ Math TAAS Good, Aronson & Inzlicht (2003) Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.


44 Implications How can you normalize experiences of difficulty? Amongst: -Students -Colleagues -Parents -Others Within: -Implementation Team -School -TWIN-CS

45 Question: Can understanding Stereotype threat reduce its effects? Method: Forewarning about ST or Test Anxiety Measure: Blacks’ Test Performance a week later 3. Promote awareness of stereotype threat

46 African American’s GRE Performance


48 Implications How can you promote awareness of stereotype threat Amongst: -Students -Colleagues -Parents -Others Within: -Implementation Team -School -TWIN-CS

49 4. Provide “wise criticism” in formative feedback Writing study: The question was: How does a white teacher give critical feedback that can be trusted and motivating? African American and White college students, matched on language and writing ability. They all had to write an essay, and assigned to one of three conditions

50 Condition 1: Unbuffered criticism: typical evaluation “Your essay needs work in several areas”

51 Condition 2: Positive buffer “Overall, nice job”

52 Condition 3: Wise criticism: high, tangible standards “It's obvious to me that you've taken your task seriously and I'm going to do likewise by giving you some straight forward, honest feedback.” “I wouldn't go to the trouble of giving you this feedback if I didn't think, based on what I've read in your letter/essay, that you are capable of meeting the higher standard.”

53 Why did it work? According to Steele, “It resolved their interpretative quandary. It told them they weren’t being seen in terms of the bad stereotype about their groups’ intellectual abilities, since the feedback user used high intellectual standards and believed they could meet them. The motivation they had was released.”

54 Implications How can you provide wise criticism in formative feedback? Amongst: -Students -Colleagues -Parents -Others Within: -Implementation Team -School -TWIN-CS

55 Strategies to Reducing Effects of Stereotype Threat: 1. Foster expansive notions of intelligence –De-emphasize “innate ability” –Emphasize effort, persistence, and stress the malleability of intelligence 2. Normalize experiences of difficulty –Provide exposure to Role Models 3. Promote awareness of stereotype threat –Foster metacognition 4. Provide “wise criticism” in formative feedback

56 Conclusion Human intelligence, motivation, and academic self-concept is more fragile and malleable than traditionally thought. People’s performance and motivation can rise and fall depending on the situations and relationships they are in, and the mindsets they adopt.

57 Message of this Research Educators can shape the threat level of the environment; they can stress the fact that serious intellectual work can be difficult but that intellectual growth occurs with engagement and effort; that people gain competence. This is often not apparent to students. Further studies show that when people perceive an environment where people believe this, an otherwise threatening environment becomes less so, students report more belonging, and this mediates higher grades and engagement.

58 Connect to TWIN-CS 1. TWIN-CS will grow and enhance the strong Catholic tradition of academic excellence by establishing a network of Two-Way Immersion Catholic schools providing high quality education to culturally and linguistically diverse students. 2. Cultivating bilingualism and biliteracy, TWIN schools will enhance their commitment to Catholic education’s defining characteristics of accessibility and social justice, which uphold the dignity of all persons, promote deep respect for all cultures, and ensure attainable Catholic education for all families. 3. Catholic schools are shaped by communion and community and are known for their capacity to foster trust, caring relationships, and strong interpersonal connections. TWIN schools will be genuinely inclusive school environments—for all students and for parents, teachers, and staff—where lifelong learning around diversity is modeled and celebrated.

59 What’s next: Link to guiding questions / action plan (this afternoon) Consider ways to incorporate Catholic Identity and broader school mission

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