Stereotypes Can Threaten Student Success

“Millennials are lazy”

“Black men do poorly in college”

“Blondes are ditzy”

“White men can’t jump”

What other stereotypes have you heard (or said) in class? Perpetuating stereotypes can lead to a widely studied phenomenon called “Stereotype Threat.” This occurs when a person feels at risk of being perceived as confirming a negative stereotype about a “group” they belong to. In a classroom, the anxiety of substantiating a negative stereotype has been shown to lower test performance, reduce memory capacity, decrease focus, and cause students to resist learning activities.

To minimize Stereotype Threat, you can…

  • Be aware of your own biases for or against groups of people
  • Avoid language that perpetuates negative stereotypes
  • Most Importantly, teach with a belief that ALL students can learn and be successful in your class regardless of stereotypes about them

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