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Section 6: Individual Differences in Educational Performance
Cultural diversity and gender
Demie (2001) aimed to discover differences in educational attainment related to gender and
ethnicity. The Methodology used was a case study using 1998 test data from 2340 KS1 pupils,
2267 KS2 and 1225 GCSE, collected from schools in Lambeth (London).
They looked at results and asked schools to say whether students qualified for free school meals,
ethic groups, and fluency of English on a scale of 14.
Results showed on average the English/Scottish/welsh group performed better than the Caribbean
and African groups. Africans were better than Pakistani, Vietnamese, Irish and
English/Scottish/welsh at KS1 but not after this. Caribbean's had lowest attainment but out
performed Bangladeshi students at KS1 and 2, but Bangladeshi did better at GCSE.
The main high achieving ethnic groups were Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese and the lowest were
African, Caribbean and Portuguese. Overall girls were better than boys apart from at KS1 and 2
where boys tended to do better at maths and sciences. Fluency in English may have been a factor.
Explanations for different educational performance
Aimed to investigate the nature of racism in `multiracial' primary schools. Wright studied four
multiracial innercity primary schools in a classroom observation of 970 students and 57 staff, and
informal interviews of teachers, support staff and the parents of children. Wright also looked at
the test results of three of the four schools. Results showed that in spite of the commitment of the
staff to equality of educational opportunity, Wright found considerable discrimination in the
classroom. In all the classes, Asian girls were `invisible' to their teachers, who stereotyped them
in terms or their expectations of the girl's traditions and customs. Wright found that other children,
who picked up on the attitudes of the teachers, exacerbated the isolation felt by these girls. Wright
also found that teachers' expectations of AfroCaribbean children were also stereotyped, but in
different ways. Wright found that teachers expected Afro Caribbean boys in particular to be
disruptive, and punished them more harshly than white boys exhibiting the same behaviour. Wright
argues that young children will be affected by their early experiences of racism within the school
environment. Not only did children suffer from the racism of their teachers and fellow classmates,
but also, when topics relating to ethnic minority concerns were raised by the teachers (looking at
religious festivals, for example), the teachers often mispronounced words or names, embarrassing
black children and causing white children to laugh. Wright argues that, unintentionally, the teacher
helps to make this knowledge seem exotic, unimportant and difficult.
Vasquez (1990) Cultural Differences
Vasquez carried out a literature review on a range of collated US studies on learning styles
amongst Hispanic American, African American and Native American students and compared
Vasquez posits that the data examined revealed a number of recurrent traits within the three
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Amongst Hispanic America students there was a tendency for higher achievement when the tasks
were cooperative rather than competitive. Vasquez argues that this can be explained with
reference to the experience these students have with their large and extended families.
When compared with their white counterparts, African American students were more person
centered and less object or concept centered. They valued discursive tasks and content which
could be related to everyday experience.
Native Americans tend to be more field dependent in their learning.…read more
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Individual Differences in Educational Performance can be evaluated in a number of ways, for
example ethnocentrism, reductionism, methodology and usefulness.
Ethnocentrism is the purported belief that ones own `in' group is superior to other `out' groups, it
is also the factor relating to sample where a limited ample has been used.
Vasquez only used Americans, of which none were white.…read more