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What Role Does Cultural Background Play in Talent Development?. Frank C. Worrell, Ph.D. University of California Berkeley [email protected] Overview. Personal versus Social Identities Identity-Based Theoretical Frameworks Related to Academic Achievement Cultural ecological theory

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What role does cultural background play in talent development l.jpg

What Role Does Cultural Background Play in Talent Development?

Frank C. Worrell, Ph.D.

University of California


[email protected]

Overview l.jpg
Overview Development?

  • Personal versus Social Identities

  • Identity-Based Theoretical Frameworks Related to Academic Achievement

    • Cultural ecological theory

    • Stereotype threat

    • Identity Profiles

    • Race-based rejection sensitivity

  • Responses of Different Cultural Groups to Feedback

  • Nature of Feedback Given to Different Cultural Groups

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Types of Identity Development?

  • Personal Identity (individuality, personality)

    • Who am I?

    • Extraverted, intelligent, motivated, etc.

  • Social Identity (Reference Group Orientation or Identification)

    • To what group or groups do I belong?

    • Does group membership affect how society views and values me?

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Personal Identities Development?







Social Identities

Ethnic and/or racial group

First language


Country of origin

Sexual orientation

Socioeconomic Status

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Personal Social Development?

  • Both personal and social identity are shaped by our environment.

  • Links between personal and social identity (e.g., achievement possibilities) are determined, in part, by what others communicate to us.

  • Minority group members actively interpret and respond to their situation.

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CET Framework Development?

  • How did group become member of society?

    • Voluntary versus involuntary

  • How does mainstream society treat group members (SYSTEM)?

    • Included, valued, traditions recognized and honored or excluded, devalued, denigrated, and discriminated against

  • How do group members respond to mainstream society (INDIVIDUAL sociocultural adaptations)?

    • Is relationship with society positive, neutral, or oppositional?

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Cultural Models of Voluntary vs Involuntary Groups Development?

  • Positive vs. negative dual frame of reference.

  • Effort-based vs. ambivalent folk theory of making it.

  • Acculturated vs. rebels as role models

  • Pragmatic trust vs distrust of White institutions.

  • Additive vs subtractive interpretation of cultural mores.

  • Unequivocal vs. ambivalent/negative/oppositional attitudes to schooling.

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Oppositional Identity Development?

  • Those individuals who take an oppositional stance often engage in actions (low effort) incompatible with educational success:

    • They do not trust schools or believe that education will result in the same payoffs as it does for others.

    • They see doing well in school as acting White or betraying their cultural heritage (I can, but do I want to; Graham, 2004).

    • Parents with these beliefs give mixed messages about benefits of education.

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Support for CET Development?

  • Large literature on cultural mistrust (including students, parents).

  • Gardner-Kitt’s (2005) study of racial identity attitudes.

  • Ford’s (2005) study on “acting White” and “acting Black.”

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Acting White Development?



Speaking standard English

Having White friends

Being uppity, stuck-up

Acting Black

Acting ghetto

Being dumb, stupid

Speaking non-standard English

Dressing urban (e.g., sagging)

Descriptors of “acting White” and “acting Black”

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Steele’s Stereotype Threat Development?

  • Human beings classify variables and behaviors and develop stereotypes of individuals and groups.

  • Societal stereotypes have a direct impact on performance, especially in situations where the stereotype is invoked.

  • Steele has demonstrated stereotype threat in several studies involving college students, with effect sizes in the large range.

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Initial ST Manipulation Development?

  • Random assignment to three groups

    • Diagnostic – Treatment

      • Test of verbal ability

    • Non-diagnostic – Control 1

      • Verbal problem solving task

    • Non-diagnostic– Control 2

      • Verbal problem solving task

      • Difficult because aimed at highly verbal individuals

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__ __ CE Development?

__ __ __ ERIOR

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__ __ CE Development?



__ __ __ ERIOR

Rap music, basketball, being a lazy couch potato, aggressive

Questions about activities, traits

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ST and Socioeconomic Status Development?(Harrison et al., 2006)

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Identity Profiles Development?

  • Osyerman et al. (2003) grouped 94 African American, Latino, & American Indian students on the basis of racial-ethnic self-schemas:

    • In-group only (59%) - focused on own ethnic group with no acknowledgement of larger society.

    • Aschematic (15%) - focused on self as individual and not as a member of a social group.

    • Dual identity groups (15%) - recognition of and pride in cultural group membership, but also aware of connections to the larger society.

  • Dual group had higher GPAs than aschematic (d = -.66) and in-group only (d = -.76) students.

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Osyerman et al. II Development?

  • Replicated findings with experimental manipulation invoking stereotype in American Indian sample (N = 65).

    • Dual group persisted longer than other two groups on mathematics task: d = -1.21; -.80.

    • Youth with dual schemas were less vulnerable to stereotype threat.

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Worrell et al. (2006) Development?

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Feedback and Prejudice I: (b) Cohen et al. (1999)

  • Conducted an experimental study examining Black and White undergraduates’ response to criticism:

    • Condition 1 (unbuffered criticism): critical feedback of performance with no other comment.

    • Condition 2 (positive buffered criticism): same critical feedback with general praise of student’s performance.

    • Condition 3 (wise criticism): same critical feedback with explicit invocation of high standards and assurance of student’s ability to meet standards.

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Cohen et al. (1999) II (b)

  • Dependent variables included the following:

    • Students’ perceptions of bias towards them.

    • Participants’ belief in their ability to improve their work and interest in doing revision.

    • Feelings of identification with writing skills.

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Feedback and Prejudice II: (b) Crosby & Monin (2007)

  • 172 undergraduates trained as peer academic advisors. Randomly assigned to give feedback to Black and White students on list of courses:

    • More likely to tell White students:

      • List is too hard (d = .33)

      • List is difficult (d = .36)

      • Will need help such as tutoring (d = .49)

      • Less time will be available for leisure (d = -.30)

      • Get a second opinion (d = .43)

    • More likely to refuse to approve White students’ list (d = -.36)

    • Difference in feedback is based on fear of being prejudiced.

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Sum: Cultural Identity Matters (b)

  • CET suggests the development of an oppositional identity to school in some minority group members.

  • ST suggests that negative stereotypes can depress stigmatized group’s performance and enhance that of non-stigmatized groups.

  • Identity profiles indicate that some are more closely associated with academic success and engagement.

  • Identity has independent effects on institutional identification and academic identification.

  • Negatively stereotyped groups are more likely to interpret unbuffered critical feedback as an indication of bias and lose motivation and academic identification.

  • Individuals who are concerned about not being racist are likely to provide less honest feedback to students from negatively stereotyped groups.

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Implications for STEM Fields (b)

  • Students from negatively stereotyped groups less likely to think themselves able to complete STEM degrees.

  • These students are also more likely to draw conclusions about bias and lack of competence in STEM gateway classes.

  • Need for engaging students in STEM projects from elementary schools, with focus on low SES and minority districts.

  • Need to have summer STEM offerings in low SES and minority districts.