Developmental Stage

Publication Type

Breaking the cycle of mistrust: Wise interventions to provide critical feedback across the racial divide
Yeager, David S.Purdie-Vaughns, ValerieGarcia, JulioApfel, NancyBrzustoski, PatriciaMaster, AllisonHessert, William T.Williams, Matthew E.Cohen, Geoffrey L.
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.

A question of belonging: Race, social fit, and achievement
Walton, Gregory M.Cohen, Geoffrey L.
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.