Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: Ok, after a couple of rather dense posts looking at issues related to Indigenization I think it would be helpful to look at a very pragmatically focused piece of research bearing on the education experiences of aboriginal children in mainstream schools. There are a number of belief stigma and biases held to vastly varying extents by teachers in the mainstream school system. How do those biases and stigma influence the academic performance of aboriginal students? Well, think about it for a few minutes and come up with your own hypotheses and then skim through the article linked below to see what it has to say. Skip around in the article (introduction then discussion then conclusions) to get a sense of what the authors found.

Source: Self-fulfilling Prophecy: How Teachers’ Attributions, Expectations, and Stereotypes Influence the Learning Opportunities Afforded Aboriginal Students, Tasha Riley and Charles Ungerleider, link to article below.

Date: May 20, 2018


Article Links: follow the link to the full text online screen to read the article. For more detailed information use the thesis link:

So you can see from the conclusions section of the article that good intension can still include bias or stereotypic expectations.  What is also clear is that the approach is aimed at understanding what can be done to increase the likelihood of success for aboriginal students in mainstream schools and classrooms. I am NOT arguing to segregated schools or classes but there is little in the article about how to address the teachers’ assumptions or biases. It is worth considering that while mainstream psychology views assumptions and biases as individually held (and thus perhaps open to policy manipulation) it may be more advantageous to see the biases, stereotypes and stigma as culturally held within mainstream culture. This opens up a broader array of opportunities for adjustment and does not stand on how effectively “biased” teachers can be moved to getter perspectives. We need to dig in a bit more to what we can use to expand out cultural understanding of the psychology of aboriginal people and especially of aboriginal students and how they are viewed from mainstream perspectives.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What obstacles are there in the way of Aboriginal student academic achievement according to the authors of this article?
  2. How might the predictive weight associated with identifying a student as “low achieving” be better managed if that student is aboriginal?
  3. Do the recommendation is the article for addressing the issues it examines make sense? What else might be helpful to know?

References (Read Further):

Timmermans, A. C., de Boer, H., & van der Werf, M. P. (2016). An investigation of the relationship between teachers’ expectations and teachers’ perceptions of student attributes. Social psychology of education, 19(2), 217-240.

McInerney, D. M., & King, R. B. (2013). Harnessing the power of motivational factors for optimizing the educational success of remote indigenous students: A cross-cultural study. In Seeding success in indigenous Australian higher education (pp. 81-111). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.