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News Link • Racism

'Positive Bias' May Be Hurting Minority Students

• http://www.livescience.com, Wynne Parry
 "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," study researcher Kent Harber, a Rutgers-Newark psychology professor, said in a press release.

This positive bias in feedback to minority students may be contributing to the achievement gap between white and minority students, a stubborn national problem, Harber said.

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 teachers believed their feedback would go directly to the student. [Poll: Were Your Teachers Tough Enough?]

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.

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