Stereotype Threats

A stereotype threat is when individuals feel under pressure to underperform in an attempt to step away from a negative stereotype. This is explained thoroughly by Seele, “People… are in a situation for which a negative stereotype about their group is relevant, they can feel stereotype threat; they can feel under pressure not to confirm the stereotype for fear that they will be judged or treated in terms of it” (2010, p.89). Some examples of this phenomenon are that Asians naturally excel in math or that or that girls are not as good in math as boys. People that become aware of these stereotypes might feel that they are working to the height of their abilities, even when they have room to grow. A person is negatively affected by this attempt of resisting unfair stereotypes.

This can greatly affect the classroom environment. Students may feel the sensation that they are trapped in negative influences. Emotional and stress leads to underperforming, which leads them to feel that they are part of the negative stereotype. This becomes a vicious cycle that can lead to affect both their college life and careers. A person’s identity can lead to how they perform in and out of the classroom.

There are some ways for teachers to combat a stereotype threat in the classroom. One thing that teachers can do is to promote growth mindset in the classroom. Students might feel that they are not smart or not capable, and that limits their potential on how well they can do. By promoting growth phrases like “I don’t know this yet” or “I need to practice this more” can lead to students performing better.

Another strategy a teacher can utilize is to value a student’s individuality. Finding projects and assignments that reflect on student’s own life, values, and beliefs can promote positive images of themselves and identities. Promoting student’s own individuality help them feel proud of who they are. There are many techniques that teachers can use to resist stereotype threats.

Steele, Claude. M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect us and What we can do. W.W. Norton, New York.

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