The role of pop culture based information and stereotypes versus direct knowledge of individuals in forming expectations of African American students

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Doris A. Brown (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Carolyn Riehl

Abstract: "The American educational system has not been effective in educating African American children. This is evident in the disproportionate number of Black students functioning below grade level, held back in grades and suspended for minor infractions. There is an achievement gap between African American and White students. The problem of the achievement gap between African American students and their White counterparts has existed for a long time. This study examined how teachers form expectations of African American students, focusing on whether they get to know their students directly or if they form conclusions based on knowledge from pop culture stereotypes. For the purpose of this study I defined teacher expectations as inferences that teachers make about the future behavior or academic achievement of their students based on what they know about these students. I defined popular culture as the meanings we construct from the images, languages, and formats of our day-to-day lives. The theoretical framework of this research relies on the "Pygmalion Effect" or the self-fulfilling prophecy with the notion that expectations of an event can make it happen. The research questions for this study were: (a) What expectations do teachers have of their African American students? How are these expectations formed?; (b) How are these expectations associated with what the teachers feel they know about the students from direct knowledge of particular students, or from more generalized knowledge about particular types of students, especially as gleaned from stereotypes and other messages in popular culture?; and (c) What is the relative impact of pop culture and stereotypes, versus direct knowledge, on teachers' actions and interactions with students? The methodology of this study utilized a limited case study design. Data collection methods included interviews, classroom observations, and focus groups. The participants were 12 classroom teachers and two elementary school principals. The interview and focus group questions included questions focused on the participants' expectations of their students as well as their views on how African Americans are portrayed in popular culture. The findings in this study demonstrated that teachers who rely on popular culture based information about African Americans tend to have lower expectations of their students. The teachers who got to know their students as individuals had higher expectations of their students."--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2006
American, educational system, African American students, disproportionate number, suspended, minor infractions, achievement gap, White students, teachers, expectations
Stereotypes (Social psychology)
African American students

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