EDUC 577 Final Reflection

I used to think of diversity in a very narrow myopic context as simply applying to race/ethnicity. This course has opened my eyes to just how far-reaching the word diversity can be and that it impacts all facets of life and how we as individuals identify ourselves.

The biggest takeaway from this course, for me, was really learning about and focusing on inherent biases in curriculum formation and student assessments. I always knew in the back of my mind that a grade’s curriculum had to have some bias because of who develops it but never gave it much thought: it was more out of sight out of mind. As classrooms across the country, including mine, become more diverse it is very important to be aware of how a student’s identity, upbringing and possibly even language barrier can impact his/her learning experience. Formulating lessons that students can better relate to and actively engage with other students creates a better learning environment. Additionally, the course gave me a better appreciation for how federal, state and local governments really do impact schools, teachers and students. Whether it be about levels of funding, curriculum or policies concerning school voucher programs, elections of politicians at all levels really impact education.

I particularly liked the assignment that utilized the cartoon generator. That is technology I definitely intend to utilize in my classroom as I think it is an excellent way to express thoughts and allows the students to have fun with each other either through reading the comic strips out loud to the class or by working as a team to develop a cartoon.

Overall, this course gave me a better awareness and appreciation for the privileges I have had in my life (growing up a middle-class white female) and how there are many others who did not share in this privilege. In fact, many experienced just the opposite in the form of inherent bias in school curriculum or, even worse, overt discrimination. It is my duty as a teacher to be mindful of this and how it informs how I teach and interact with my students. I am thankful for the perspectives this course offered and the awareness it raised in me.

Corey Battersby

Revised Lesson Plan

Revised Lesson Plan #577
Social Justice Lesson Plan

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.