If African-American students perform best in group settings, what does that say about standardized testing?
Recent study (Culture and the Interaction of Student Ethnicity with Reward Structure in Group Learning) reveals minority students perform better when working in groups. The way a teacher structures learning groups benefit minority students in different ways.
Performance of African-American Students
Study and related articles show African-American students work best with others in a cooperative learning setting. Students perform higher on tasks and tests when they work together.
Group vs. Individual Learning
Individual rewards do not encourage African-American students to improve performance. White students respond to individual rewards and individual instruction.
The focus on extended family is embedded in the African- American culture. Students relate to the home and community environment and view interaction and support as a way to learn.
Relationship to Standardized Testing
The education system has set the stage for minority students to fail. African-American students are behind before they start. Not given the chance to capitalize on their strengths.
Think about it. Research recognizes that a particular group of students perform best in one manner. Educators require the same students to demonstrate their finest performance in a different structure. What is the message?
What to Do Now
Standardized testing is here to stay. Change must happen in the school. Include more collaborative, cooperative group work regardless of the age of the student.
Start with what we can control. The classroom. Elementary schools teach a certain way for a reason. Incorporate strategies and techniques that optimize the strength of the student.
When the Young Child Gets Older
Secondary educators prepare students by having them work independently. Wrong. Teach to their strengths. Use strategies that integrate natural learning styles.
Motivate the student. Build ability and improve performance. Increase their knowledge base. Offset what may happen during testing.
If African-American students are at a disadvantage when taking a test, then educators must take extra precaution to protect against failure. No last minute test taking sessions.
Teach content and skill to acquire knowledge and keep up with other students. Teach their way. The way the student desires to learn.
Next step: Develop alternative and project based assessments to enrich the learning experience and add value and meaning to grades.
photo by anissat