Latino middle school students whose academic performance may have been undermined by "stereotype threat"--an anxiety that can stem from being a member of a racial, ethnic, or gender group associated with negative stereotypes--earned higher grades after participating in classroom assignments meant to boost their confidence, a new study has found.
Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, had a group of students, both Latino and white, participate in "values affirmation" classroom assignments throughout the school year. The students were asked to select values and write brief essays about why they were important to them. The Latino students who completed the exercises earned higher grades than their Latino peers who did not, and those effects persisted for three years. Little impact was seen on white students' academic performance.
The study is published online this month by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
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