CRF Blog

A 1-hour fix for the racial achievement gap?

by Bill Hayes

In A 1-hour fix for the racial achievement gap?, the Los Angeles Times reports on how mental roadblocks can hold back the academic progress of minority students and on simple experiments showing how these roadblocks can be overcome.

The experiment reported in Science tested whether this life script could be changed. College freshmen read the results of what they were told was a survey of upperclassmen, together with ostensible firsthand reports of navigating college life. The stories detailed how, at first, the juniors and seniors had felt snubbed by their fellow students and intimidated by their professors, but their situation had improved as they gained self-confidence. The freshmen were asked to write essays explaining how their own experiences dovetailed with those of the upperclassmen; they then crafted short speeches that were videotaped, supposedly to be shown to the next generation of undergraduates. The exercise took about an hour. Meanwhile, a control group was reading and writing about an unrelated topic. [more]