4:17 AM / Friday December 8, 2023

27 Mar 2011

How to shrink the college Completion gap

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
March 27, 2011 Category: Color Of Money Posted by:

By Gregory Ferenstein



Two Stanford researchers have tested a confidence-boosting technique that dramatically increases the performance of minorities in college.


Two Stanford researchers have found a free, universally accessible method of shrinking the college minority grade gap. A simple, one-hour confidence boosting intervention dramatically boosted GPA, and also had lingering effects on well-being, health, and negative stereotyping.


College is an exceedingly fragile time for most students, slightly less than half of whom never finish. For minorities, the problems is especially pronounced. “When your group is in the minority, being rejected by a classmate or having a teacher say something negative to you could seem like proof that you don’t belong, and maybe evidence that your group doesn’t belong either, ” Professor Gregory Walton tells ScienceDaily. “That feeling could lead you to work less hard and ultimately do less well.”


To combat the devastating mix of insecurity and home-sickness, a randomly selected group of students–both white/European and African American–took part in a therapeutic self-affirming exercise. Participants read narratives of upperclassmen speaking about their own college difficulties to encourage “students to attribute adversity not to fixed deficits unique to themselves or their ethnic group but to common and transient aspects of the college-adjustment process,” reads the study.


The clincher of the intervention included a psychological slight-of-hand, having students read aloud and record their own thoughts for future students. The technique, what the researchers call “saying-is-believing effect,” leads participants to secretly internalize the message being spoken. The results, published in the prestigious journal, Science, were remarkable for minorities: a roughly 25 percent saw an increase in GPA, triple the percentage of those in the top 25 percent of their class, and 32 percent experienced a decrease in self-reported doctors visits. By comparison, the intervention had a much smaller effect for white students, confirming the the researchers’ hunch that negative stereotyping was behind poor minority performance.


While the results of the study are still experimental, the the techniques may provide a cheap and effective way to reduce the racial disparity in higher education.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News


Feeling burnt out? Watch out for these symptoms

December 1, 2023

Tweet Email BPT If long workdays leave you wondering if you’re burnt out, take a closer look....

Food And Beverage

Hosting advice for a perfect holiday ham

December 1, 2023

Tweet Email FAMILY FEATURES Bringing together loved ones with classic seasonal meals is a staple of the...


Norman Lear, producer of TV’s ‘All in the Family’ and influential liberal advocate, has died at 101

December 6, 2023

Tweet Email Photo: Norman Lear (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File) LOS ANGELES (AP) — Norman Lear, the writer,...


Snake Eyes

December 5, 2023

Tweet Email On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles found out that you have to be lucky AND good...

Fur Babies Rule!

Shared meal experiences: The next big thing bringing people and pups closer

December 1, 2023

Tweet Email BPT Do you throw birthday parties for your dog? Include them in family photos? Maybe...


Prepare your bathroom for holiday guests with 7 simple upgrades

December 1, 2023

Tweet Email BPT  If you’re hosting guests this holiday season, there’s much to do to prepare. Decorating,...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff