African American and Latino students who completed self-affirming writing exercises in middle school took more challenging courses and were more likely to enroll in college, among other positive outcomes.
Having minority middle school students write a series of self-affirmation exercises focusing on core values improved the odds that the students would pursue college tracks in school, according to Stanford scholars.
The study, which recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that after completing the self-affirmation exercises, Latino students were more likely to enter a college readiness track than a remedial one near the transition to high school and African American students were more likely to enroll in college seven to nine years later.
“Once students feel affirmed, a whole series of forces in the environment exist to help propel them forward: teachers noticing their potential more, giving them more challenging work, directing them to advanced courses,” said J. Parker Goyer, the study’s lead author and post-doctoral scholar at Stanford. “The effects can be powerful, but the intervention itself plays a subtle role as an initiator of this larger process.”