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Achievement gaps between underrepresented minority (URM) students and their white peers in college science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classrooms are persistent across many white-majority institutions of higher education. Attempts to reduce this phenomenon of underperformance through increasing classroom structure via active learning have been partially successful. In this study, we address the hypothesis that the achievement gap between white and URM students in an undergraduate biology course has a psychological and emotional component arising from stereotype threat. Specifically, we introduced a values affirmation exercise that counters stereotype threat by reinforcing a student's feelings of integrity and self-worth in three iterations of an intensive active-learning college biology course. On average, this exercise reduced the achievement gap between URM and white students who entered the course with the same incoming grade point average. This result suggests that achievement gaps resulting from the underperformance of URM students could be mitigated by providing students with a learning environment that removes psychological and emotional impediments of performance through short psychosocial interventions.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: CBE life sciences education
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The concept covering the physical and mental conditions of members of minority groups.
The complete summaries of the frequencies of the values or categories of a measurement made on a group of items, a population, or other collection of data. The distribution tells either how many or what proportion of the group was found to have each value (or each range of values) out of all the possible values that the quantitative measure can have.
A study in which observations are made before and after an intervention, both in a group that receives the intervention and in a control group that does not.
A statistical analytic technique used with discrete dependent variables, concerned with separating sets of observed values and allocating new values. It is sometimes used instead of regression analysis.
A principle of estimation in which the estimates of a set of parameters in a statistical model are those quantities minimizing the sum of squared differences between the observed values of a dependent variable and the values predicted by the model.