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Reducing Stereotype Threat in Classrooms: A Review of Social-Psychological Intervention Studies on Improving the Achievement of Black Students


Authors:   Joshua Aronson, Geoffrey Cohen, Wendy McColskey, Bianca Montrosse, Karla Lewis, Kathleen Mooney

Stereotype threat arises from a fear among members of a group of reinforcing negative stereotypes about the intellectual ability of the group. The report identifies three randomized controlled trial studies that use classroom-based strategies to reduce stereotype threat and improve the academic performance of Black students, narrowing their achievement gap with White students.

For More Information Contact: Wendy McColskey

Product Specifics

Publisher: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
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state and district policymakers

Key Ideas:

  • Black students may experience an additional source of stress in classroom situations that arises from a fear of reinforcing negative stereotypes and the intellectual ability of their racial group.
  • The three studies, involving social-psychological strategies, found positive impacts on the academic performance of Black students.
  • It is important to note that while strategies use established procedures that can be emulated by teachers and administrators, they also require thought and care on the part of schools and teachers in applying them in their particular situations.

Ways to use:

  • To build knowledge among teachers in social psychological strategies that can be implemented in the classroom. 
  • To identify classroom sources of stereotype threat.
  • To adapt instructional strategies in the classroom to create a less stressful learning environment for students.


For additional resources, Support for At-Risk Students section.

APA Citation:

Aronson, J., Cohen, G., McColskey, W., Montrosse, B., Lewis, K., and Mooney, K. (2009). Reducing stereotype threat in classrooms: a review of social-psychological intervention studies on improving the achievement of Black students (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2009, No. 076). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.