Date of Award
Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership for Learning Dissertations
Tak C. Chan
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Is there a connection between stereotypes and the achievement gap? The issue of stereotyping is a consistent topic of concern in the United States based on labels such as race, ethnicity, gender, and religion (Gollnick, 2013). The United States is a multicultural nation where the classroom is becoming filled with a plethora of diversity pulling many of those stereotypes to the surface (Gollnick, 2013). Intergroup interaction can be frustrating, confusing, and cause anxiety for many because of the unknown and/or misunderstood factors that determine cultural differences. Could there be a connection between stereotyping and student achievement based on how the teachers implement various instructional strategies? Do students who are labeled as low-achievers receive the same opportunities of exploration as those who are not? With Karl Marx’s conflict theory along with the study of various societal and psychological theories by Donald T. Campbell as the foundation for this study, perceptions of instructional leaders and teachers of 4th-8th grade students were gathered to see if there were commonalities concerning the effectiveness of instructional strategies used for low-achievers. Thirty-nine instructional leaders and one hundred fifty-seven teachers of 4th-8th grade students within two school systems in northwest Georgia were surveyed through an online web-link. The findings of the survey indicated that instructional leaders and teachers perceived the use of a high frequency of group work but perceived student exploration and experimentation as more effective for low-achievers. Instructional leaders perceived student-led instruction as more effective for low-achievers than teachers where teachers perceived such strategies as power points and online handouts as effective for low-achievers. The researcher concluded that both instructional leaders and teachers perceived student-led techniques for exploration and experimentation for low-achievers as effective but teachers are not implementing these strategies as much as they could be. A list of effective instructional strategies for low-achievers as perceived by instructional leaders and teachers was constructed indicating the perceived order of effectiveness. Further research may determine if the same instructional strategies are perceived to be effective for students considered to have higher achievement levels so that it may be determined if there is a stereotype threat to those students considered to be low-achievers. We, as educators must make sure to avoid the possibility of any student asking the question, ‘Am I able to learn if they think I can’t’.