Research Funded by the William T. Grant Foundation Finds Bonding Exercises Cut Discipline Disparity for Students of Color
Exercises that address middle school students’ worries about belonging can help black and Latino boys develop better relationships with teachers, according to new research.
The exercises also sharply reduce their risk of receiving discipline citations years into the future, report researchers.
Their research, which appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that guided exercises in two or more 25-minute class sessions early in sixth or seventh grade reduced teacher reports of discipline issues—such as for disrespect, defiance, or insubordination—among black and Latino boys by 57 percent over two years in one study. In a second study, the reduction for black boys was 65 percent from sixth grade through 12th grade.The researchers hope that their findings can help address the discipline disparity between black and Latino students and other groups. According to the US Government Accountability Office, in 2013-14, black boys represented 7.9 percent of public school students but 25.2 percent of suspended students.Teacher reports of discipline issues, the researchers say, arise from a cycle of negative interactions that negative social stereotypes between teachers and students influence.
“When students and teachers both begin school aware of negative stereotypes that label boys of color troublemakers, small initial differences can compound,” says Gregory Walton, a fellow in undergraduate education and associate professor of psychology at the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University...