Dysfunctional Illusions of Rigor [...]

Treisman (1992; Fullilove & Treisman, 1990) found that about 60 percent of the African Americans enrolled in calculus at the University of California at Berkeley made a D or F or withdrew. He surveyed faculty from multiple departments for solutions. They overwhelmingly suggested that something was wrong with the African American students: ability, preparation, social shock, employed excessively, and so on. Treisman showed that these hypotheses were largely not applicable. Most spectacularly, the African Americans with the highest math entry scores were most likely  to do poorly. The groups of students who were doing best spontaneously formed study groups, consulted with older peers, and obtained old exams and homework form older friends. Students who were not doing as well tended to do as the instructor suggested-study two hours out of class for every hour in class-but did it by themselves with little social support. Treisman invited the African Americans into honors homework sections and required that they do group work. They attended the regular large lectures sections and took the regular exams. The D, F, or W rate went from 60 percent to 4 percent. There were no deficits that were not made irrelevant by appropriate pedagogy. (Source)

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