Research Proposal

Topics: Education, Race and Ethnicity, Racism Pages: 6 (1254 words) Published: December 3, 2014

Teachers’ Implicit Bias Negatively Affects Student Achievement Rebecca Burke
The College of New Jersey

Teachers’ Implicit Bias Negatively Affects Student Achievement The racial and ethnic achievement gap is an alarming issue that needs to be addressed in the United States educational system. When students experience explicit racial discrimination their achievement on academic tasks are lower (A Class Divided, 2003). This poor academic achievement can lead to higher referral for psychological evaluation and placement in special education (Chang, D. F., & Sue, S., 2003).Teachers’ biases can be responsible for this poor academic achievement. According to a study, teachers tend to rate African American students lower on measures of personality, behavior, motivation to learn, and classroom performance (Cullinan, D., & Kauffman, J. M., 2005). According to the same study, teachers tend to treat Caucasian students more favorably than African American students in the classroom (Cullinan, D., & Kauffman, J. M., 2005).

Teachers are rating African American students lower on motivation to learn and are referring African American students for special education more than Caucasian students. However, there is evidence that African American students are equally as motivated to achieve in school as Caucasian students (Bahr, M. W., Fuchs, D., Stecker, P. M., & Fuchs, L. S.,1991). Despite this motivation to learn and school being important to African American students, there is an obvious achievement gap between African American and Caucasian students (Hanselman, P., Bruch, S. K., Gamoran, A., & Borman, G. D., 2014). There is a need to study what is causing this achievement gap between the two races. There have been many influences studied already to try to explain the achievement gap between African American and Caucasian students; family demographics, teacher and peer explicit bias, and low student motivation have all been studied (Bahr, M. W., Fuchs, D., Stecker, P. M., & Fuchs, L. S., 1991; Chang, D. F., & Sue, S., 2003, Cullinan, D., & Kauffman, J. M., 2005). There is a lack of research concerning teachers’ implicit biases towards African American students. This study will focus on teachers’ implicit bias and how it affects African American students and their academic achievement throughout the school year. It will be argued that teachers tend to favor Caucasian students and will be implicitly biased towards African American students. This implicit bias will create a threatening environment for African American academic student achievement. In order to test this theory, already existing student achievement, motivation, and problem behaviors will be controlled for and considered in the final measurements. The research question that is being proposed is that if African American students experience implicit bias from their teacher will their academic achievement be lower than their Caucasian peers? By answering this research question future research can be conducted to control teachers’ implicit bias in the classroom setting in order to close the academic achievement gap. The hypothesis being proposed is that teachers who are more implicitly biased will have a negative effect on African American student achievement. Method

Researchers will be seeking out at least 300 students for the study; 100 each from a racially diverse school, somewhat racially diverse school, and a non-racially diverse school (mostly Caucasian). The participant s will be half male and half female. Teachers will be recruited through a flyer handed out by the administration in the school. The teachers will send a letter home with a consent form to recruit elementary school students for the study. The reason to seek out students from a non-racially diverse school is that the students and teachers will act as a control group for the study. The racially diverse and somewhat racially diverse schools...

References: A Class Divided. (2003, January 1). Retrieved November 24, 2014, from
Bahr, M. W., Fuchs, D., Stecker, P. M., & Fuchs, L. S. (1991). Are teachers ' perceptions of difficult-to-teach students racially biased?. School Psychology Review, 20(4), 599-608
Boysen, G. A., & Vogel, D. L. (2008). The relationship between level of training, implicit bias, and multicultural competency among counselor trainees. Training And Education In Professional Psychology, 2(2), 103-110. doi:10.1037/1931-3918.2.2.103
Chang, D. F., & Sue, S. (2003). The effects of race and problem type on teachers ' assessments of student behavior. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 71(2), 235-242. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.71.2.235
Cullinan, D., & Kauffman, J. M. (2005). Do race of student and race of teacher influence ratings of emotional and behavioral problem characteristics of students with emotional disturbance?. Behavioral Disorders, 30(4), 393-402.
Hanselman, P., Bruch, S. K., Gamoran, A., & Borman, G. D. (2014). Threat in context: School moderation of the impact of social identity threat on racial/ethnic achievement gaps. Sociology Of Education, 87(2), 106-124. doi:10.1177/0038040714525970
Tyson, K. (2002). Weighing in: Elementary-age students and the debate on attitudes toward school among Black students. Social Forces, 80(4), 1157-1189. doi:10.1353/sof.2002.0035
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