For Student Feedback, Race Matters

Study: A "positive bias" in feedback given to minority students could have a negative impact on their achievement.

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A study that appeared online in the Journal of Educational Psychology on April 30 suggests that black and Latino students may be receiving less-critical feedback from teachers than their white counterparts when they turn in work of the same quality. Researchers are concerned that this means minority students could be missing out on input from instructors that stimulates intellectual growth and fosters achievement.

The Huffington Post reports:

The study "tested" 113 white middle-school and high-school teachers in two public school districts, one middle class and white, and the other working class and racially mixed. Both are located in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area.

Harber and colleagues developed a poorly written essay that they gave to the teachers to grade, under the pretense that it was the work of a student. In some cases, the teachers believed the student was white, in others black and in others Latino.

The researchers found that, indeed, the teachers were prone to give more praise and less criticism if they believed a minority student had written the paper, as opposed to a white student ...

"These results indicate that the positive feedback bias may contribute to the insufficient challenge that undermines minority students' academic achievement," the researchers conclude.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

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