The Grade Blog

Friday, Feb 15 2013 05:32 PM

Study finds intervention can close achievement gap

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A joint study by researchers at several institutions has found that psychological intervention can help close the achievement gap between white and Latino students.

Exercises designed to encourage students and reduce stress seemed to help them overcome the negative effects of what the study called the "stereotype threat," or "the stress and uncertain sense of belonging that can stem from being a member of a negatively stereotyped group."

That undermines the academic performance of minority students, researchers said, but "simple interventions" with Latino middle school students reduced the achievement gap "significantly."

The students were asked to participate in structured reflection exercises throughout the school year. They listed values and things in life that were priorities for them. Later, they wrote brief essays about how what they valued most in life would be important to them in the coming spring.

Latino students who completed the affirmation exercises had higher grades than those in a control group, and their elevated performance persisted for three years.

The study's co-authors were from Columbia University, University of Chicago, University of Colorado, Stanford University and UC-Santa Barbara.

The Campus Gamers student organization at Cal State Bakersfield is sponsoring "Gamer Education Day 2013," a three-hour event designed to expose students to careers in the video game industry.

The event is 6 p.m. March 1 in the CSUB Student Recreation Center gymnasium, 9001 Stockdale Highway.

There will be multiple speakers from the videogame industry, a student musical performance, and an exhibit of game-related art projects.

Game music composers Christopher Tin, Grammy-winning composer of "Baba Yetu" from Civilization IV; and Jack Wall, composer for Call of Duty: Blak Ops II, are among those making presentations.

Game storyline writer Susan O'Connor, best known for Gears of War and Tomb Raider, also is on the roster.

Speaking of games, a University of Wisconsin-Madison education professor believes they should be used to assess student progress.

Current assessment methods often lack the motivating and information-rich ways that games capture data about learning, according to Professor Richard Halverson.

Well-designed games reward players for mastering skills and strategies, he said.

Halverson and several colleagues have built video games that capture game-play data as evidence of player learning.

-- Courtenay Edelhart, Californian staff

For more education news, follow The Grade's Twitter at twitter.com/TBCTheGrade, or like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducationReporterCourtenayEdelhart.

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