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Improving Adolescents’ Standardized Test Performance: An Intervention to Reduce the Effects of Stereotype Threat
2003, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
In an experiment that tested how to reduce the anxiety-inducing effects of stereotype threat, seventh grade students were divided into four groups to be mentored by college students. Three groups heard different messages about the malleability of intelligence, how difficulties in seventh grade were normal, or both. A control group was given a message about the harm of drug use. Girls in both experimental conditions did better on standardized math tests.
Signaling threat: How situational cues affect women in math, science, and engineering settings
2007, Psychological Science
A question of belonging: Race, social fit, and achievement
2007, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Worry over one’s social belonging can contribute to racial disparities in college achievement. Historically excluded groups may feel alienated and stigmatized on college campuses, contributing to the belief that they don’t belong. When harboring such doubts, subtle events that confirm a lack of social connectedness can have disproportionately large impacts. Indeed, on days of high stress, black students’ (but not white students’) sense of fit in college declined. However, after an exercise that relayed the message that they were not alone in feeling they didn’t belong and that the feelings would dissipate with time, black students were more engaged in school, and their sense of belonging hinged less on the quality of their day. Their GPAs also improved.
Breaking the cycle of mistrust: Wise interventions to provide critical feedback across the racial divide
2014, Journal of Experimental Psychology
How can a teacher convey criticism that could lead to improvement without undermining motivation and self-confidence? “Wise” strategies are one method. Such strategies convey to students that they will be neither treated nor judged in light of a negative stereotype but will instead be respected as an individual. In an exercise that used attributional retraining to teach students to attribute critical feedback to their teachers’ high standards and belief in their potential, 71 percent of black students who received an affirming note with a critique chose to revise their essays, compared with 17 percent in the control. Among black students with low trust in teachers, 82 percent revised their essay while none in the control group did.