African-American students may improve grades if teachers convey high standards, study shows

Sep 06, 2013

(Phys.org) —African-American students who need to improve their academic performance may do better in school and feel less stereotyped as underachievers if teachers convey high standards and their belief that students can meet them, according to new psychology research from The University of Texas at Austin.

The findings, published online in August in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, contradict a common trend in education of praising students for mediocre work to help raise self-esteem before delivering critical remarks. That method may seem patronizing and could backfire and lower self-esteem, especially when white praise African-American students, said lead researcher David Yeager, assistant professor of .

In three studies conducted at suburban and inner-city schools, African-American students improved their grades after receiving a simple, one-sentence note from their teachers or an online pep talk. The exercises were designed to dispel students' fears that criticism of their could be caused by different treatment of African-American students rather than their teachers' high standards.

In the first study at a suburban public middle school in Connecticut, 44 seventh-grade students (22 African-American and 22 white) wrote an essay about a personal hero that was critiqued by their teachers for improvements in a second draft. The students were randomly assigned to two groups with the experimental group receiving a hand-written note with their critiqued essay that stated, "I'm giving you these comments because I have very high expectations, and I know that you can reach them." The control group got a note that stated, "I'm giving you these comments so that you'll have feedback on your paper."

For African-American students who received the high-expectations note, 71 percent revised their essays, compared to 17 percent in the control group. The findings were even more pronounced for African-American students who had reported low trust in their teachers in surveys, with 82 percent revising their essays in the high-expectations group, compared to none in the control group. White students who received the high-expectations note also were more likely to revise their essays, but the difference wasn't statistically significant compared to the control group.

The second study, conducted a year later with a similar group of 22 African-American and 22 white seventh-grade students, carried the research a step further by analyzing grades for the revised essays. In the high-expectations group, 88 percent of African-American students received better grades on their revised essays, compared to 34 percent in the control group. More than two months after the exercise, African-American students who had received the high-expectations note also reported higher levels of trust in their teachers. White students in the high-expectations group also saw slightly higher grades, but the difference wasn't statistically significant.

The third study was conducted with 50 African-American and 26 at a New York City public high school where most children lived in low-income households. One group of students watched online testimonials that included photos of older students and their advice that academic criticism resulted from teachers' high standards and their belief that students could reach them. One control group saw online testimonials with vague statements about teachers' motives, while another completed some puzzles.

Over the next 10 weeks, African-American students in the high-expectations group showed higher grades across four core subjects—math, science, English and history. The improvement averaged a third of a grade point increase on a standard 4.0 grade point scale, equivalent to moving from a C- to a C or a B to a B+. White in the high-expectations group saw a slight improvement in grades, but the change wasn't statistically significant.

Explore further: Study shows Jim Crow-era segregation persists in Texas schools

More information: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23937186

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julianpenrod
1.9 / 5 (17) Sep 06, 2013
Among other things, why do the students supposedly not automatically feel like the teachers have high hopes for them? And, if they need someone having high hopes for them to succeed, it either means that their parents couldn't care less about their success or they don't care what their parents feel. And where does the idea of trust come in? If the students don't trust their teachers before they get the encouragement, why do they believe them that the teachers supposedly have high hopes? And, remember, it was literally dumbing down the curriculum, redefining grades, accepting gutter slang as necessarily legitimate English, that was supposed to guarantee blacks learning more and doing better.
Humpty
1.2 / 5 (14) Sep 07, 2013
I was black in a previous life time.

I know what this is like.
Gmr
2.3 / 5 (9) Sep 07, 2013
Um, I have a book from 1909 and before on "anthropology" - and one of the most interesting things it has to say is on the academic achievement of children, observed. It says all of the "races" are academically the same until 11 or 12 - and what happens at 11 or 12? Puberty hits, and kids start thinking about their adult prospects and what they actually want to do when they grow up.

You show them a limited palette, a short set that doesn't include anything they aspire to, they give up. Why be educated further if they already know the maximum they can achieve in life is something that won't make any use of what they might like to learn about, or might struggle to learn?

Hope is a powerful motivator to keep somebody going through difficult times, such as hard school subjects, and resisting peer pressure to lower standards and just give up.
Shootist
1.8 / 5 (16) Sep 07, 2013
Gain the insight you need.

_The Bell Curve_ by Murray and Herrnstein.
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (33) Sep 07, 2013
You show them a limited palette, [..] they give up. Why be educated further if they already know the maximum they can achieve in life is something that won't make any use of what they might like to learn about, or might struggle to learn?


Society shows everyone a limited pallet if they don't put an effort in.

The question is who is showing them that 'limited pallet' before they have experienced it for themselves? The race hustlers and the implicit racism of liberal policy in lowering the bar of acceptable behavior and standards for blacks,... subjecting them to institutionalized dependancy for generations in welfare makes prison seem like more welfare opportunity.

In the black culture the mantra of perpetual victimization by 'institutionalized racism in 'white' society' is the poison fed young black males for generations. It is a separtist and failed culture, one that expects whites to change their successful culture, while not having to change their failed one.
Noumenon
1.1 / 5 (30) Sep 07, 2013
The study may seem patently obvious, but to a typical liberal and race baiter who think that speaking 'ebonics' makes one multilingual..., it is a major scientific breakthrough that required a study to understand because of their bias and patronizing racism.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (15) Sep 07, 2013
Another example of 'liberal' racism:

"Ed Asner: Hollywood Not Criticizing Obama On Syria Because He's 'Black'"
http://www.breitb...ia-black

Do 'liberal' white teachers fear academically challenging black students?
Gmr
1.4 / 5 (11) Sep 07, 2013
Wow, Noumenon - that was startlingly racist.

My point is when people don't see others like them in jobs they might like to do, or are discouraged from seeking those jobs by a lack of role models, hope dims. When hope dims, achievement becomes pointless, and so effort becomes a joke or a farce.

Where you got the rest of your tirade, I can't say. Projected anger at not being coddled as you perceive others to be? Blustering pride at having been self-made through a public education system and the happenstance of being white and male?
obama_socks
2.1 / 5 (15) Sep 08, 2013
@gmr
One of the problems that young Black males undergo is their tunnel vision as to WHO the GOOD role models are. Instead of trying to emulate great men like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Walter E. Williams, Dr. Ben Carson, Bill Cosby and many others who have become successful and well educated, some even coming from broken homes and poverty, young Black men and women turn to entertainers such as Jay-Zee and others who do "gangsta rap" that are filled with abusing women, illegal drugs, disrespect for others, encouragement to skip school, casual sex, and other equally unacceptable "lyrics" that convince these kids that to be cool, they have to do whatever the "song" says to do. The culture is rotted from the inside, and I doubt that a slip of paper telling the students that teacher has high hopes is going to change those kids and take them off the path to prison or death from an overdose or being shot.

Yes gmr...maybe Black kids should follow White males to a successful future.
obama_socks
2 / 5 (16) Sep 08, 2013
The study may seem patently obvious, but to a typical liberal and race baiter who think that speaking 'ebonics' makes one multilingual..., it is a major scientific breakthrough that required a study to understand because of their bias and patronizing racism.
-Noumenon

Actually, I was astonished after reading the article. I never would have thought that, in America, such a study was possible...given the climate of thinly veiled racism by the Liberal educational system, the Liberal media, and the culture of pretense that things have improved and that improvements in the Black community has become a part of American tradition since the death of MLKing, Jr.

But Noumenon is correct and I fully agree. Young Black men and women who can't speak English properly and prefer to speak "ebonics", are less likely to get a good paying job and get out of the cycle of poverty, drug overdose and crime. It is a culture of death, but Liberals are afraid to tell the truth regarding it.
Ferky
1.6 / 5 (13) Sep 08, 2013
This seems like a moderately reasonable study, but the problem is that black under-performance is one of those things that never goes away and always provides social activists, politicians, and social scientists with something to complain about. It's a lose-lose for teachers, because whatever they do, if their black students under-perform, the blame will be on the teachers.

The expectations are too low. The expectations are too high. Black students are not treated equally. Black students are treated equally. There will always be something to complain about (and to use to get more public research funds).

The weirdest thing to me is that a study like this seems like an unequivocal call for the abolition of affirmative action, since it is a program that says to blacks, "you under-perform, but it's not your fault. We'll get you in anyway". Those who agree with the conclusions of this study should be firmly against affirmative action. Are they?
Gmr
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 08, 2013
No, I'm not, Ferky - and here's why:
There already exist "affirmative action" programs at many colleges for children of alumni, children of members of the Greek system, and so-on, a myriad of ways that some kids get in that really don't deserve to be there. Undercut that with a "here's a free pass because many of those guys over there got in on their parent's connections" and I'm really not seeing anything unfair.
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (15) Sep 08, 2013
but Liberals are afraid to tell the truth regarding it.

Not only that, they actively undermine black parents who want to get out of the trap.
BHO stopped a voucher program in DC that black parents widely supported.
'Liberals' in the US and in Germany oppose parents who home school and many US states oppose competition among schools, vouchers and charter schools.
Ferky
1.9 / 5 (13) Sep 08, 2013
No, I'm not, Ferky - and here's why:
There already exist "affirmative action" programs at many colleges for children of alumni, children of members of the Greek system, and so-on, a myriad of ways that some kids get in that really don't deserve to be there.


Tell me about it. I've been surrounded by these incompetents, both as fellow students and as my students, for a large fraction of my adult life, and I've heard your argument numerous times before.

Now explain how one form of injustice justifies another.
Ferky
1.9 / 5 (14) Sep 08, 2013
By the way, Gmr, don't forget what is perhaps the biggest and most pernicious system of preferential admissions and treatment: athletics. Pernicious, because almost no one, left or right, seems to have a problem with admitting morons simply because they can throw a ball or jump over something.
Noumenon
1 / 5 (27) Sep 08, 2013
Wow, Noumenon - that was startlingly racist.


What did I post that was racist?!! That charge deserves you to be specific in your claim. I was wrt liberal patronizing of blacks.

I don't believe any race is inferior or superior to another. What are you talking about?
Noumenon
1.1 / 5 (28) Sep 08, 2013
Young Black men and women who can't speak English properly and prefer to speak "ebonics", are less likely to get a good paying job and get out of the cycle of poverty, drug overdose and crime. It is a culture of death, but Liberals are afraid to tell the truth regarding it.


And if you point out the obvious to help the black condition, as we saw above, the political left labels you as a racist. Like they did The Tea Party, it's a means of oppressing blacks further by coercing them in not listening to counter points of view. If you're black you may listen to the opinion of a conservative, but surely not if he is a racist. Stop the flow of ideas and you control them.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (16) Sep 08, 2013
The cure for racism is conservatism. Every black, brown,....person who is a conservative is no longer considered black, brown,... by 'liberals'.
obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 08, 2013
From the beginning of the end of institutionalized slavery in America, it was the Democrats who opposed the dissolution of slavery. Southern Democrats lost their privileged lifestyle due to the Civil War and blamed it on the drive to emancipate the Negro slaves. But the theory that Blacks were inferior and had to be helped every step of the way as was done before emancipation, was still prevalent amongst Democrats, from both North and South.

The "theory" held on through the 20th century while most Democrats became Progressives. They could not say that Whites were inferior, but only Blacks.
Progressives could not send the Blacks back to Africa, so they had to find a way to eliminate them in whichever means possible. The Progressives chose a subtle form of genocide to eliminate Blacks in the U.S. (continued)
obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 08, 2013
1. By providing an education to Blacks based on lower standards than for Whites and Asians, Black children, for the most part, were declared unteachable and uncomprehending and were assured of a place in a lower-class society. This complies with the Democrat/Progressive "theory".
2. By concentrating on the racial aspects of the Black community, Progressives continued the "theory" so that Blacks would feel entitled to support by taxpayers through a succession of generations. This provided Progressives with proof that Blacks are lazy, shiftless and don't want to work, which fell into the "theory" of inferiority.
3. White Progressives who have control of the media, various forms of entertainment, sports and cultural events encouraged a "pop" culture amongst young Blacks that consists of hard drug usage like heroin and crack cocaine; unwed motherhood; irresponsibility; disrespect for authority, inciting and hateful 'music' and other behaviors that could lead to death or imprisonment.
obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 08, 2013

4. Democrat/Progressives disapprove of Black men who have become successful, well-educated, and/or wealthy through their own efforts while having a disdain for the welfare state. This bothers Dem/Progs because it runs counter to their "theory" that Blacks are inferior and cannot get along without their help, with the exception of those in the entertainment and sports world. That is also part of the "theory" that Blacks are entertaining and are great as athletes.

The "theory" lives on in the Democrat/Liberal/Progressive community in the U.S. The Southern Democrats of the 19th century are getting even for the Civil War and the loss of their slaves and money spent on their upkeep. It is for these reasons that Democrat/Progressives are unconcerned about Black kids in big cities being murdered by other Black kids. It is all part of the 'plan' of elimination of an "inferior" race through Progressivism.
obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 08, 2013
IMHO...right off the bat, on the very first day AND second day of school, and whenever needed, EVERY teacher, in order to be most effective, MUST explain to his/her students what is expected of them AS A GROUP. Never mind this getting someone alone either online or outside of class and giving them a pep talk of what is expected of them. TELL THE WHOLE CLASS ALL AT THE SAME TIME to eliminate any misunderstanding and some of the students succumbing to peer pressure in the hope of being "cool".
Educators in the good old days used to wield a wooden ruler, ready to rap a misbehaving student across the knuckles. It was very effective and the shame in front of their peers was usually enough for them to settle down and behave. Also, students who didn't raise their hand to answer a question were the ones the teacher called on to answer. That was an effective way to entice the student to study harder. THAT was true 'inclusion'.
Sadly, it isn't done anymore.
Gmr
2.3 / 5 (9) Sep 08, 2013
By the way, Gmr, don't forget what is perhaps the biggest and most pernicious system of preferential admissions and treatment: athletics. Pernicious, because almost no one, left or right, seems to have a problem with admitting morons simply because they can throw a ball or jump over something.

Oh, I haven't forgotten. I'd say that most colleges should divest themselves of being incubators for professional sports, but I'd be in a rather tiny minority that thinks athletics adds nothing to education other than venting for aggression and promoting insular attitudes among students.

I'd also kick the Greek system off-campus, but that's me.
obama_socks
1.3 / 5 (13) Sep 08, 2013
The Greek system is a status symbol in the best colleges where sons and daughters of the rich and famous make their mark as belles and beaus in preparation for the "coming out" debutante ball, although not necessarily at the same time. I believe that the "debutante ball" may be a thing of the past, but it may be a private functiion - especially in the southern U.S. where they make a big deal of such events. The only thing marring the system is the now-defunct (supposedly) hazing of "plebes".
I had read in past years of a few sororities that were for young ladies of color within traditionally Black colleges. In a way, it's a nice thing to aspire to, as long as it encourages study.
BAKOON
1 / 5 (8) Sep 08, 2013
Well, that seems to be one of the main problems within the Black community. The culture is damaging to kids who just want to get a good education and make something of themselves when they graduate. Their lack of discipline shows up every time from both school and home. Discipline is key to success in America...and it is the Black community who will pay with the lives and futures of their children.
-Obama_socks, Insane Racist Idiot

Read more at: http://phys.org/n...html#jCp
Noumenon
0.7 / 5 (25) Sep 09, 2013
The cure for racism is conservatism. Every black, brown,....person who is a conservative is no longer considered black, brown,... by 'liberals'.


Great statement!
obama_socks
1 / 5 (9) Sep 10, 2013
The cure for racism is conservatism. Every black, brown,....person who is a conservative is no longer considered black, brown,... by 'liberals'.
ryg2

This is true. It is a war of ideologies that marks the racist attitudes of Liberals/Progressives of any race in their reaction to the high ideals of Conservatives of any race. This is also a result of generations of grievances against those whose ancestors were never slaveowners, but who are still convicted in the minds of racist Liberals/Progressives due to their being White.

Educated and successful Black Conservatives are also convicted in the minds of both Black and White Liberals/Progressives because they don't follow the standard White Liberal/Progressive "theory" that Blacks are an inferior race. These superior Black men and woman Conservatives are labeled "Uncle Tom" and are regarded as traitors to their race because they haven't assimilated into the "shuck and jive" mentality.