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Racial Stereotypes In Education Essay

Racial stereotypes and the effects on education remain a compelling concern. While similar pressures can be drawn between clique and racial stereotypes, racial stereotypes possess a variety of pressures and effects on education. People within a racial stereotype find themselves a part of that stereotype with no personal choice, whereas people determine if they want to include themselves in a clique. Subsequently, students within a racial stereotype feel that negative image of that stereotype can’t be reversed under a circumstance. People imply a good or bad reputation based merely on a few members of the race.

Individual attributes become overlooked; a specific skill set defines a race. Based upon this specific skill set, member of a racial stereotypes feel that intelligence level is predetermined. Students believe the racial stereotype in their own race sets the level of academic achievement. Levels of academic achievements based upon stereotypes have been a topic of further investigation. Claude Steele, a professor of social psychology at Stanford University and a leading researcher on the effects of stereotypes in education, coined the term “stereotype threat.

Steele describes the stereotype threat as, “Students who belong to groups that have been negatively stereotyped are likely to perform less well in situations such as standardized tests in which they feel they are being evaluated through the lens of that stereotype” (Steele). Steele’s point shows that students feel racial stereotypes will affect the level of their intelligence. Also, students think standardized tests are scored negatively in a way that the stereotype will impact the score. Steele further explains test scores between blacks and white have a separable difference which remains steady.

On IQ tests, whites outscore blacks by approximately fifteen points. The SAT, a usual college admission test that measures reading, writing, and math skills, the point difference persists at a hundred point difference on each of the subtests. This familiar and significant difference in points can affect the admission into a college (Steele). Based on Steele’s research, the stereotype threat plays a significant role in a black student’s standardized test scores compared to a white student’s scores. However, black students are not the students to succumb to the stereotype threat.

Since all people belong to some type of stereotypical group, all students face a stereotype threat in one way or another. While stereotypes exist in race, stereotypes also appear in gender. A study set out to find if stereotypes could negatively hinder women’s performance in math. The study measured the ability of an equal number of men and women to complete seven math problems in ten minutes. Before the testing began, researchers stated a negative stereotype to the participants that the purpose of the experiment was to figure out why men are usually better at math than women.

With the addition of a negative stereotype, results showed both men and women felt more anxious and pressured during execution. However, each of the genders defeated the obstacles strongly (Reschke). This study proves women are capable of succeeding in math. Furthermore, this study shows a certain stereotype causes anxiety and impairs academic achievement. In context, this stereotype threat adds to the below average performance of women in math classes. With gaining recognition of the effects of negative stereotypes in education, negative stereotypes and their effects have lessening impacts.

In specific, awareness of the women and math stereotype has led to a decrease in negative effects. Negative stereotypes prevail in education, but also positive stereotypes appear as well. Studies have shown that stimulating positive stereotypes leads to improved skills and boosted academic performance. One particular study found stereotypes can boost or hurt performance based on the stereotype activated. The study focused on triggering different stereotypes in Asian American women and seeing how the different stereotypes affected performance.

Stereotypical qualities of Asian American include strong quantitative attributes and poor verbal skills. When the women’s Asian identity was asserted, the women scored higher on a math test (Shih 117). Ultimately, not all stereotypes affect education negatively. Positive stereotypes enhance academic performance simply based upon the stereotypical group a student becomes involved in. Throughout Kory Williamson’s nine years of teaching high school students, Williamson has seen students belonging to positive educational stereotypes have boosted academic performance. Students feel pushed by the clique to achieve more academically.

The clique members are expected to place an emphasis on education. As a result, clique members have boosted academic performance (Williamson). On one hand, positive stereotypes clearly lead to improved skills and advanced academic performance. But on the other hand, negative stereotypes impact a student’s education and test scores. The effects of negative stereotypes cannot be overlooked. Many students succumb to the threats of negative stereotypes. Students do not realize the unavoidable negative effects caused by these stereotypes. The negative stereotypes lack of transparency make the effects seem minimal.

However, the stereotype threat exist for all students regardless of clique, race, gender, and every other factor. While the positive effects are present, the negative effects don’t subside or disappear. The negative effects of stereotypes can only disappear through cultural awareness, not by merely examining the positive stereotype effects. Many people would argue that the stereotypes can’t predict student academic outcomes. Since stereotypes form out of generalizations of a few individuals that are applied to group of people, stereotypes inaccurately identify skill sets and abilities for each individual.

Many people view stereotypes as completely false. Granted that stereotypes aren’t 100% accurate, stereotypes help to identify pressures associated with current thoughts in society. Students can easily fall prisoner to stereotypes commonly spread through the media and American culture. While there is no guarantee a student will submit to the pressure of a stereotype, raised awareness on the effects of negative stereotypes benefits students about possible threats in their education. Even with negative stereotypical pressures, students can and do break educational stereotypes.

While students belong to a certain stereotype, they might not take part in stereotypical norms in regard to education. Kory Williamson agrees when he states, “Students start their education careers on a certain path and because of one reason or another either internal or external… they break through stereotypical behaviors to do great things ” (Williamson). Students break away from stereotypical norms in order to achieve greater academic knowledge. Stereotypes may not be easy to break, but the students can succeed. Each individual student has the choice to reject the negative effects of stereotypes in education.

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