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  • Teachers always have their favorite students. But when does this favoritism turn into bias?

  • Hi guys, Lissette here for DNews. Teachers are an important part of our learning and development.

  • I still remember every single one of my elementary school teachers -

  • the ones I thought were good as well as the ones I thought were not so good. But what did they think of me?

  • Or you? How did that affect our learning?

  • Well, a recent study, published in the Journal Economics of Education Review.

  • Looked at data from thousands of students across the US and their teachers to see where race and gender fall into the equation.

  • In the study, different teachers were asked to rate the same 10th grade student

  • and predict his or her highest level of educational attainment.

  • The researchers found that predictions varied based on the gender and race of both the student and teacher.

  • In general, the expectations of black teachers for black students were 30 to 40 percent higher than those held by non-black teachers.

  • In other words, they believed black students

  • would do far better. To illustrate, 37 percent of black teachers, when asked about a black student,

  • let’s call her Samantha, thought she would obtain a four year college degree.

  • In contrast, only 28% of white teachers thought she would do so. Now if she were a Samuel instead,

  • this effect would be even greater. White male teachers, in particular,

  • have very low expectations of black boys. They don’t believe theyll do as well.

  • The problem isthat what teachers believe has a serious impact on student outcomes.

  • We know from this and other studies that expectations matter. In this particular study,

  • the researchers found black students who had a non-black teacher in a specific subject in 10th grade

  • were less likely to pursue that subject later in their schooling. But it’s more than just subject

  • area preferences. It influences how well students do in school and to some degree

  • the quality of their education.

  • In the infamous Pygmalion In The Classroom study from the 1960s, researchers Rosenthal and Jacobson conducted an experiment with elementary children in public school.

  • At the beginning of the school year, the researchers gave all students an IQ test as a baseline.

  • They then told teachers, erroneously, that a certain subset of those students would

  • show anintellectual growth spurtover the course of that year. This was a lie.

  • In fact, the students were chosen at random. But, that suggestion to teachers had a measurable

  • effect: by the end of the year, the students who were labeled as growth spurt students

  • actually did perform better than the rest of their classmates. On average,

  • they gained 3.8 IQ points more.

  • And, these differences were even greater for younger children. Looking at first grade students only,

  • the difference was 15.4 IQ points. This suggests that there is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy happening.

  • Teachers who believe their students will do well are more likely to act

  • in ways that will lead to that happening. Since the 60s, other studies have dug in to

  • try to figure out what exactly teachers might be doing that leads to this bias. And, it looks like

  • it could be things like - giving children they believe are smart more time to answer questions when called on,

  • giving them more challenging questions, or recommending them

  • for gifted and talented programs.

  • Teacher expectations are powerful. So much so, that today, we largely consider it unethical

  • to label students the way we did in the Pygmalion study. It wouldn’t be right to knowingly put some students at a disadvantage.

  • Which is why labels like race and gender are so

  • tricky in a classroom. These labels don’t require a researcher: Teachers can automatically

  • and involuntarily apply them to students. So, it's especially important to grapple with

  • and examine the expectations attached to them.

  • For a deeper dive into race itself -

  • what it really is and what it means, check out this episode on The Science of Racism.

  • In terms of biology, race doesn't exist. And let's not to say race isn't real. Though it's important to understand that race is a cultural construct, like human created this, and has nothing to do with our biology.

  • Do you have an experience where you felt your teacher was biased against you? Or maybe

  • favored you in some way? Share your thoughts in the comments and remember

  • to subscribe so you never miss an episode of DNews. Thanks for watching.

Teachers always have their favorite students. But when does this favoritism turn into bias?

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Are Teachers Unintentionally Racist?

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    羅紹桀 posted on 2016/06/14
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