Instructor ethnicity examined as key to student success

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Have you ever wondered if there’s a reason why children excel better in certain classes and have trouble in others? Or why the subject students are failing at are the subject they excelled in the year before?

A recent study published in Educational Researcher “found that all students, regardless of their ethnic origin, ‘perceived more favorably minority teachers than white teachers,’” according to a Univision article.

Researchers weren’t surprised that minority students preferred minority teachers but astonished when they found out non-minority students preferred minority teachers as well.

Delta College students said what matters in their learning is quality of instruction and ability to understand, as opposed to ethnicity.

Gisell Betancourt, a San Joaquin Delta College student, said maybe the student feels that “if they can do it then I can too.”

She said students feel a connection to the minority teachers because they can relate.

Though she said her favorite instructor at Delta is a white male because “he takes time and goes through what the class needs help” with. She said he “grabs” attention.

Ayman Altaf, a third-semester student, said she doesn’t have a preference in educator.

“It doesn’t matter…they’re all good,” she said.

Some students don’t fully agree with the study.

“I think it is wrong…things should be equal,” said Daisy Gomez, a first-year student.

Gomez said at her high school she felt teachers favored non-minority and students with higher incomes rather than minorities such as herself.

“I like a teacher that explains … that makes connections and explains the subject thoroughly,” she said.

Joseph Nguyen said he evaluates instructors by knowledge.

“It doesn’t really depend on ethnicity of a teacher but the knowledge he or she has on the subject and how he or she explains it to the students…though there could a stereotype,” said Joseph Nguyen, third-year student.

When asked the qualities he wished to see in a professor he said “engagement of the student and pride into the subject and class.”

John Pagtama, a third-year student, also said it’s not about a person’s skin color.

“I don’t think it matters… if  they have the credentials it shouldn’t matter what ethnicity,” he said.

The findings in Educational Researcher concluded “most students gave better ratings to Latinos and African-American teachers than whites in several indicators such as motivation, control they maintain over their classrooms, concern that demonstrate to students how they explain the concepts …”

The qualities each minorities bring forth that effect the change, according to the Univision article.