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The purpose of this activity is to help us better understand what stereotype threat is and how it might impact student learning.  To prepare for Wednesday’s discussion on this topic, please complete the activities below:

1.  Read Chapters 1-4 in Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi bookPreview the document.  This article is attached here as well as available in your course packet.

2.  Complete a Reading ReportPreview the document for this assigned reading.  Please submit 1 copy here and bring 1 copy to class on Tuesday.

Please compose a 2-3 paragraph response using one or more of the conversation starters below. Don’t forget to include a citation for any information that comes from an outside resource:

  • Steele opens with the notion of “identity contingencies” and tells several stories about them. What is an “identity contingency”?
  • Describe a memory about an identity contingency that has affected you negatively. Can you recall a time when you benefited from an aspect of your identity?
  • When did you first realize there was a “racial order”? a “gender order”? a “class order”? Any others (e.g. age, sexual orientation, political attitudes, religious beliefs) that have mattered in the ways Steele describes? What did you understand to be your own location in those hierarchies?
  • Have you ever done anything like what the young black man Steele quotes who “whistled Vivaldi” in order to put white people at ease with his own presence? Have you done something to try to welcome or include someone in the position that young black man was in? How well did it work?
  • Have you ever tried to unlearn a stereotype about a population? What did you do to unlearn it? How successful do you think you were?
  • What is “stereotype threat”?  Can you think of a time when you were impacted by stereotype threat?  Share a personal example.
  • Now that you know what “stereotype threat” is, can you think of a time when you might have underperformed because of it? Were you aware that anything was amiss? If so, did you try to address the problem?

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