Stereotype Threat

The article from the Teaching Center website, “Reducing Stereotype Threat” states that a stereotype threat “is a phenomenon in which a person’s concern about confirming a negative stereotype can lead that person to underperform on a challenging assessment or test.” In other words, when an individual perceives a negative stereotype attributed to his/her group then that individual will strive extra hard to not fulfill that stereotype. However, many studies have shown that this hinder performance resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Stereotype threat can have a tremendous impact on the classroom and it is important for the teacher to be aware of it and develop strategies to combat it. As Vivaldi points out, the extraneous effort exerted by the students can lead to “over-efforting” (Vivaldi, 2010, p. 105). The fear of confirming the negative stereotype can adversely impact performance and a vicious cycle ensues. It is the responsibility of the teacher to create an environment in which students feel safe and able to express themselves. Also, it is important for the teacher to develop assessments that are not culturally biased. A culturally biased test is considered a test that yields clear and systematic differences among the results of the test-takers. Developing fair assessments to combat bias as well as providing clear feedback and criteria on which the students will be graded will help boost student confidence and combat stereotype threat.

“Reducing Stereotype Threat.”

Steele, Claude. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: and other clues to how stereotypes affect us. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

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