A study led by Kent D. Harber, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, concludes that public school teachers “under challenge” Black students by providing them more positive feedback than they give White students for work of equal merit.
Researchers gave a poorly written essay to 113 white middle-school and high school teachers. The essay was written by the researchers but subjects were told it was written by either a White, Black, of Hispanic student in a writing class. The subjects were told to critique the paper and that their review would be given directly to the student.
The results showed that the teachers displayed a “positive feedback bias.” The teachers provided more praise and less criticism if they thought that the student who wrote the essay was Black or Hispanic.
Dr. Harber says, “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. Some education scholars believe that minorities underperform because they are insufficiently challenged — the ‘bigotry of lowered expectations’ in popular parlance.”
The study, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, can be purchased here.