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Re: Article: Devaluing the Race Card

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  • pghiqman
    (In a previous post I claimed that the subject in which the black students grades were boosted was being kept secret because it was not stated in the Science
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 3, 2006
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      (In a previous post I claimed that the subject in which the black
      students grades were boosted was being kept secret because it was
      not stated in the Science paper)

      Not a secret after all! The lead author Geoff Cohen quickly
      responded to an email query from me with the message that "It was
      social studies both years."

      So the key finding of the Science study is that a quick 15 minute
      written exercise in personal values affirmation administered early
      in the school term results in a large (40%) decrease in the black-
      white academic achievement gap in Social Studies class grades
      throughout the subsequent school year.

      The data in the actual Science paper pertain only to grades obtained
      in the targeted course (what we now know was Social Studies),
      however in their "supporting online material" document on the
      Science website Cohen et al. further claim that their intervention
      resulted in significantly increased grade point averages for other
      courses (i.e. non-targeted courses, what we now know are the various
      non-Social Studies courses) for the group of black students that are
      in the middle tertial of the academic performance distribution of
      black students (the mid-group black GPA in non-targeted courses went
      from 2.28 to 2.72 while the corresponding mid-group white GPA went
      from 3.18 to 3.15). In his email Geoff Cohen also said "Although we
      don't discuss the issue in depth, the effect of the intervention
      does not appear to be moderated by whether the course was "targeted"
      or "non-targeted." "

      Thus it should be easy for educational psychology researchers to
      attempt to replicate this incredibly surprising finding. It sounds
      almost too good to be true that such a simple brief intervention
      could result in such a large effect (a 40% reduction in the racial
      achievement gap), if this can be replicated in other school systems
      this will be wonderful and astounding. I am still skeptical though,
      it is pretty hard to believe that a 15 minute intervention could
      possibly have such a profound effect.

      Roy Frye

      --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Karl
      Stonjek" <stonjek@...> wrote:
      > Devaluing the Race Card
      > By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
      > ScienceNOW Daily News
      > 31 August 2006
      > The life of African-American middle-school students can be pretty
      stressful. From the moment they step into the classroom, some must
      contend with not only coursework but also the anxiety that
      performing badly might confirm negative stereotypes. That fear can
      itself lead to poor performance, researchers have known for a while;
      now they've come up with a simple antidote: getting students to
      reflect on their sense of self-worth by writing a personal essay
      about what they value.
      > Geoffrey Cohen, a psychologist at the University of Colorado,
      Boulder, and his colleagues tested the strategy among 243 seventh
      graders at a northeastern U.S. school that had a roughly 50:50 ratio
      of African-American and white students. Each student was asked to
      complete a 15-minute writing assignment that included a page with a
      list of values such as one's relationships with friends, athletic
      ability, and creativity. Students circled their top two or three
      values. On the next page, they wrote a few sentences explaining
      their choices and describing moments when they had felt the
      importance of the chosen values. The researchers designed a similar
      assignment for a control group in which students had to circle the
      value they thought was least important to them and explain why that
      value could be important to other people. The students were not told
      the purpose of the assignment.
      > At the end of the term, the researchers found that African-
      American students in the treatment group got significantly better
      grades than same-race students in the control group. Low-performing
      African Americans seemed to have benefited the most. The assignment
      didn't have any effect on white students. Overall, the intervention
      closed the racial achievement gap by 40%, the team reports tomorrow
      in Science. "The results exceeded our expectations," says Cohen. "It
      was remarkable."
      > To find out how the treatment worked, the researchers had the
      students complete 34 word fragments, seven of which--such as _ACE--
      could be completed to form either a stereotype-relevant word such as
      RACE or a stereotype-irrelevant word such as FACE. African-American
      students who got the intervention formed fewer stereotype-relevant
      words than did African Americans in the control group. This suggests
      that the intervention allowed students to distance themselves from
      racial stereotypes, Cohen says.
      > The researchers also found that African Americans in the control
      group did progressively worse as the academic term went on, while
      those in the treatment group stabilized or started improving after
      the intervention. "There is something about the stereotype threat
      that feeds off its consequence: You are stressed that you'll do
      badly, and so you do; then you get even more stressed and do even
      worse," Cohen explains. "Our intervention seems to halt this
      downward spiral."
      > "These are very exciting results," says Claude Steele, a
      psychologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who
      was among the first to show that the threat of reinforcing negative
      stereotypes can impair performance among minority students. "They
      suggest some powerful and simple ways of fixing things in American
      education." Cohen warns, however, against viewing the intervention
      as a silver bullet for improving minority-student performance. "It
      worked in this particular school," he says. "Whether it'll work in a
      predominantly minority school or at a different grade level, we
      can't say."
      > Source: Science
      > http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/831/2?etoc
      > Posted by
      > Robert Karl Stonjek
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