The Psychology of Success: How Teacher Beliefs About Race and Gender Intelligence Affect Student Achievement

The Psychology of Success: How Teacher Beliefs About Race and Gender Intelligence Affect Student Achievement

(Video Presentation) Connecting the Dots: How Race in America’s Classrooms Affects Achievement by Dr. Beverly Tatum
American Psychological Association Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS)
Embedded from YouTube on February 26, 2016

On August 4, 2012, Dr. Beverly Tatum was invited by the American Psychological Association Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) to give the Lee Gurel Lecture. Tatum is perhaps best known for her 1997 book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, and for her most recent role as president of Spelman College for 12 years prior to retiring last year. Earlier in her career, Dr. Tatum was a psychology professor and held administrative positions as department chair, dean, and acting president of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts before arriving at Spelman. She is credited with advancing conversations on race, particularly in education.

It is where psychology and education intersect in schools that our conversation about race is most necessary.

In Dr. Tatum’s address to members of TOPSS and fellow conference attendees, she discussed the intersection of psychology and education in schools. Specifically, she provided a history of intelligence testing and how teacher beliefs about intelligence can shape their expectations of students. In this 45-minute video, Connecting the Dots: How Race in America’s Classrooms Affects Achievement, Dr. Tatum tells us why teacher expectations, honest feedback, and belief in a student’s ability to achieve given effective effort, are key to academic success. She provides illustrative examples of fixed versus malleable intelligence theories and Claude Steele’s concept of stereotype threat. Dr. Tatum concluded with strategies teachers and others can take to reduce stereotype threat and increase cross-racial interactions, student self-efficacy and success.

From the beginning, race determined who had access to education, and it still shapes how we think about who can benefit from it. 

I am sharing this video on The Social Scholar because I believe it touches on some important concepts that can be detrimental to the academic achievement of girls and students of color. Dr. Tatum’s strategies are timeless in helping to correct practices that served as the basis of American education. In closing, Dr. Tatum stated:

This dialogue among adults is important, of course, not just for academic performance, but also for the effective preparation of all of our students who live in an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic world. We have to raise our expectations for our students and for our teachers, and we have to be willing to invest in both. 

 

Comments (5)

  1. Casey Piket
    Mar 07, 2016

    This is a great story. Thank you for sharing it on my Blog site (www.miami-history.com). My great uncle and my grandmother graduated from Robert E Lee Middle school when it first opened in the mid to late 1920s. It was interesting to read about your experience as a teacher many years after they attended the same school Good luck in your quest to impact the lives of the big dreamers that come from difficult environments.

    • Tonya Harris Cornileus, Ph.D.
      Mar 07, 2016

      Thank you, Casey, for your comment. I loved my experience at Robert E. Lee Middle. That experience and the kids there changed my life. I enjoyed reading your blog site as well. All the best to you. Please continue to follow The Social Scholar (https://socialscholar.net) and share with your network as well. With gratitude, Tonya Harris Cornileus

  2. Tonya Harris Cornileus
    Mar 07, 2016

    Thanks so much Selena for your contribution. A great post to help other people understand the evolution of these laws governing education. Let’s hope the ESSA goes further in ensuring all of our children are succeeding. I invite you to be a regular Guest Scholar.

  3. Larry Howlett
    Mar 11, 2016

    Thanks Tonya (Dr.) for giving much needed voice to BMAchievement pedagogy with a critical human resource development lens. I tweet a lot about this provocatively so. I am looking forward to reading more of your future blogs and collective dialogues!

    • Tonya Harris Cornileus, Ph.D.
      Mar 14, 2016

      Thank you Larry for your comment. As I continue the series on Black men’s career development, I welcome your feedback.

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