Colleen Sharkey | February 12, 2020
A recent study, co-authored by a University of Notre Dame professor, shows how educators’ racial and gender biases affect their assessments of students’ academic skills based on noncognitive skills, which include behavior, class participation, self-discipline and interpersonal skills.
Using a national dataset, Calvin Zimmermann, assistant professor of sociology at Notre Dame and Grace Kao, Yale University IBM professor of sociology, examined how first-grade teachers’ perceptions of students’ approach to learning can affect how they rate those students’ academic skills.
The results of the study, published in January in the Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, suggest that racial and gender biases regarding students’ noncognitive skills — whether they meet or defy teacher expectations — affect teachers’ overall perception of students’ academic abilities, a previously overlooked area of consideration.
“In talking to teachers during this and other studies, it is clear that many of them care deeply about their students and social justice but they are also overburdened with administrative tasks, preparing for standardized tests and other demands of the job,” Zimmermann said.
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