Minority Students More Likely To Get Praise From White Teachers

The achievement gap between white and minority students is due to all sorts of factors, including income disparities. But the way teachers treat students of different races could play a role. Consider this: white teachers give more positive feedback to black and Latino students than they give to white students for the same work, according to a study led by Rutgers University and published in the Journal of Educational Psychology. Over-praising students of color could leave them under-challenged since they don’t feel pressure to achieve beyond low expectations.

Here’s how the experiment worked: researchers gave a poorly-written essay to a group of 113 white teachers. Teachers who thought a black or Latino student wrote the essay gave more praise and less criticism when grading it than when teachers thought a white student wrote the essay.

Kent Harber, the lead psychologist behind the study, talks about the “positive feedback bias” from white teachers and the implications of his findings.

“The social implications of these results are important; many minority students might not be getting input from instructors that stimulates intellectual growth and fosters achievement,” notes Harber. “Some education scholars believe that minorities under-perform because they are insufficiently challenged—the ‘bigotry of lowered expectations,’ in popular parlance,” he explains. “The JEP study indicates one important way that this insufficient challenge might occur: in positively biased feedback,” according to Harber.

Read more at: www.newark.rutgers.edu