Posted on September 7, 2011

An ‘Instructor Like Me’

Inside Higher Ed, September 6, 2011

Nonwhite students at community colleges are more likely to stay in classes and to earn higher grades if they have instructors of their race or ethnicity, according to a study released Monday by the National Bureau for Economic Research. But the same is true for white students, meaning that hiring more minority instructors may result in decreased performance by white students.

The positive impact of having a same-race instructor appears to be the greatest on black students, and on younger students.

The study, “A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom,” may be controversial, since it touches on several hot-button issues in higher education, including racial gaps in academic performance of students and affirmative action in faculty hiring. {snip} The abstract is available here.

{snip} Their analysis is based on a large data set (more than 30,000 students in more than 21,000 course sections) provided by De Anza College, a community college in Northern California. {snip}

De Anza has a diverse student body: Asians make up the largest group (51 percent), followed by white students (28 percent), Latino students (14 percent), black students (4 percent) and other nonwhite students, including Native American and Pacific Islanders (3 percent). {snip}

At De Anza, the instructors are much more likely than the students to be white. Seventy percent are. {snip}

Among all nonwhite groups, the study found a gain of 2.9 percentage points in the proportion of students completing courses taught by instructors of the same race as students–cutting in half the gaps in minority vs. white course completion rates. {snip}

Among students who don’t drop out, there are also gaps between the performance of white and Asian students and that of other groups, especially black students. For instance, of those students who don’t drop out, 89 percent of white and Asian students pass, compared to 82 percent of black students; and 68 percent of white and Asian students who complete courses earn at least a B, while only 53 percent of black students do. For black students taught by a black instructor, there was a gain of 13 percentage points–among those who completed the course–in the proportion earning a B or higher.

At the same time, the authors note that there were declines in various performance measures for white students taught by non-white instructors.

The authors write that their findings may leave some wondering whether minority students learn more effectively from minority instructors or whether those minority instructors give better grades to minority students than do white instructors. They rule out discrimination (positive or negative) from the instructors by looking at additional data. First, they note that the dropout rates are constant by race and ethnicity, even before the instructor has handed out the first set of grades–so these patterns aren’t motivated in significant part by hard or lenient grading.

Further, they note that the shift in academic performance by minority students is most evident for younger students (for the purposes of this study, up to 21.5 years old), with hardly any impact on older students. If the students were reacting to discrimination by instructors, the impact should be evident among older students as well, the authors write. {snip}

Another possible factor is that talented minority students might seek out minority instructors, but the researchers write that there is evidence only for a small impact of “sorting,” and that they control for it.


18 responses to “An ‘Instructor Like Me’”

  1. CDE says:

    Let me hear you say it. The segregationists were right.

  2. Valerie says:

    I attended this ‘De Anza College’ back in 2006. It’s actually Asians who are all at the top of the hard science classes despite the majority of instructors being white. Whites tend to take the soft social sciences and the easy math classes while Calculus is filled with Chinese, Korean, and Indian students. It’s funny how they do just fine with white teachers.

  3. pernicious oversupply of blacks on TV, disgusting! says:

    “But the same is true for white students, meaning that hiring more minority instructors may result in decreased performance by white students.”

    Anything that degrades and eliminates White privilege is to be embraced by those who want to have career success. If black teachers are the cause of Whiteys loosing interest in academic achievement, then we should celebrate our successes and commit to doing more. Take away the tax free status of Whitey private schools until they hire a majority of Diveristy teachers and coaches and principals.

    White excellence is just a racist construct to justify Jim Crow segregation.

  4. Peejay in Frisco says:

    More black teachers are needed, but how do you do that?They cant be forced to. Very few of them want to become teachers because they will have to endure the same kind of abuse that they gave out to their teachers when they were students.

  5. white is right, black is whack says:

    Ah, so it’s ok for nonwhites to want teachers of their race, yet whites wanting white teachers or white bosses or whatever is synomous with Jim Crow and the Third Reich. Gotcha.

  6. True Blue says:

    #3 Spot on.

    As with the practice of taking away funding for the gifted and dumping it into the bottomless pit of ‘underachievement’ (it isn’t, as underachievement implies that you have the ability to do more -enough said) this boils down to attacking the bell curve at both ends to try to close the ‘achievement gap’. If you can drop the top end of the curve, it makes the disparity with the bottom of the curve appear to be smaller…

    No child left behind, and no child allowed to excel…

  7. HH says:

    Note the cynical manner in which the opening paragraph is constructed. Referencing non-whites it is stated matter of factly that they do better with non-white instuctors. For whites, however, the next sentence has to be intoduced with a “but” right out in front, insinuating immediately that THAT is someone surprising or problematic. In other words, of course non-whites thrive among non-whites(particularly of their own kind), but it is somehow troubling that whites would be the same way… *dramatic music begins to play*…maybe “racism” is to blame!!

    This ever-present spectre of “racism” rises again, and more overtly later in the piece, when it is suggested that non-whites might only appear to do better with non-white instructors because they gave better grades to non-white students than white instrctors – “racism” is obviously implied.

    The only real revelation here is that they are basically forced to admit that the study suggests that hiring more non-white instructors may well harm whites. That is a major consession from the academic crowd!

  8. madison grant says:

    So the study shows that children perform better in segregated schools? So “separate but unequal” was a lie?

    It has long been noted that the Supreme Court’s Brown vs Board of Education decision was in part due to a fraudulent doll study by Dr Kenneth Clark, a hack black quack.

  9. Jesse says:

    “Among all nonwhite groups, the study found a gain of 2.9 percentage points in the proportion of students completing courses taught by instructors of the same race as students—cutting in half the gaps in minority vs. white course completion rates.”

    The unknown factor giving these results might be an easy one. That the spread of teachers race is dependant on the subject they teach.

    That black teachers are more likely to teach classes that appeal to blacks.

    And while dropout rates are the same before the first grades are handed out might just mean that the students simply feel that the class just isn’t for them, which is not the same thing as failing the class. And it also means that just because the minority drop-out rate is the same for minority teachers, it does not mean that those teachers don’t give better better grades to students of the same colour as them.

    There might also be something akin to afrocentric teaching or something like that, or the simply fact that a teacher with the same type of background better understands what students like them are trying to convey.

  10. olewhitelady says:

    If black students make higher grades from black teachers, it sounds to me like favortism, pure and simple.

    When my daughter entered college about 20 years ago, she signed up for an African arts class. She dropped out after hearing the black instructor consistently address any black student as “brother” or “sister”.

  11. Bon, From the Land of Babble says:

    Whites tend to take the soft social sciences and the easy math classes while Calculus is filled with Chinese, Korean, and Indian students.

    Wow! What an enlightening comment! I’m so glad you came onto this site to point this out to us stupid, racist Whites. Not like Calculus was discovered by Whites.

    But…I wonder why, when I looked around my son’s AP Calculus C class yesterday at Back To School Night, I saw nothing but a sea of White faces.! Same in the AP Physics II classroom — White faces with a few Asians. Both classrooms were FILLED with White parents. Were we in the wrong rooms? Surely no White high school student would DREAM of taking AP Calculus or Physics, let alone second year courses!

    Do you think we were in the wrong room? Yeah, we must have taken a wrong turn because according to you ‘Whites tend to take ‘soft social science. and easy math.’ We must have thought we were in the Algebra Readiness class, the ‘soft, slow’ math class, certainly not the second year of AP Calculus or AP Physics! No White could EVER hope to pass that class, let alone the AP test, right??

    Wonder why those White AP science/math teachers didn’t recognize instantly that there was something wrong when they saw a sea a White faces (mine included) sitting in what was obviously the wrong room?

    I’ll have to check my son’s program again. I’d swear he told me he was taking AP Calculus C and AP Physics II but I must have misheard, I’m positive he’s supposed to be in Algebra Readiness and General Science with all the other White kids!!

    I must also remember to demand that the AP Biology teacher take down my son and daughter’s names from his wall where they are mistakenly listed with those who received perfect scores on the AP Bio test, I know he is just trying to embarrass White kids by doing this!!

    Because only non-Whites are smart enough to take advanced math and science, right? Right?? Right?


  12. BritishActivism says:

    It is obvious to most of us who are honest with ourselves that we all prefer to be taught and in the company of those who are most like ourselves.

    Over here in the United Kingdom, we are playing catch up with your “affirmative action” drives. Only recently there was an article in the press about making sure blacks are interviewed for managerial positions in our football teams (soccer). The day before that I heard somebody on the radio say that the National Health Service did not “represent the wider community” in terms of its head-staff and various sections and departments.

    In those circumstances, surely we have to ask the question…..why does it matter? Why do we need a particular percentage of Black fire-fighters? Why do we need a particular percentage of Black radiotherapists (or Lesbian ones!)?…..and why do we need to have a percentage of more Black football managers?

    If anybody argues that the Black youths here need role-models to show that top jobs are open to them….then is that not evidence that Black youths are racist and that they thus cannot look up to some manager of another race to their own as a role model?

    Like this article here – people like to be with people like themselves and like to look up to and learn from people of their own ethnicity. More proof that ‘race realism’ is an obvious necessity to admit.

    I followed the link to the original article…..and I could not help spot this image of an advert on the right hand side:

    Obviously there is no need to mention here on AmRen that the propaganda and brainwashing is being peddled into people’s brains. We get the same kind of adverts and images in Britain, whether it be college courses or advertisements for new sofas.

  13. Snow Walker says:

    Well HERE’s a case of a black mob that preferred a white gas station attendant:

    Does that count?

    Didn’t think so.

  14. Enough says:

    How long before they start doping the smart kids to bring their IQ and performance level down? Using the current radical egalitarian rhetoric of the looney but increasingly dominate left being smarter than other kids is an unfair unearned “white and asian” privilege that must be addressed before we can reach their progressive utopian heaven on Earth.

  15. Anonymous says:

    In the bucolic 1970s, I attended De Anza and lived within easy walking distance in a little tract house belonging to my parents. All white neighborhood, excepting a Japanese here and there, though usually as a gardener. Don’t recall ANY non-white students at De Anza or instructors for that matter. Glorious days, never to return…

  16. BeenThere/DoneThat says:

    I once taught Basic English Composition (Comp 101) at a community college in suburban Philadelphia. I was assigned 4 classes, each with 40 students, which meant that I was grading a minimum of 160 compositions (actually, 320)a week. Because my students were largely remedial, and could barely write a simple declarative sentence, the work was on par with ditch digging. For all this, I earned $1700 per class per semester and NO benefits. $6800 for four months work! – and when it was over, I told the English Chair to go to hell and I stormed out the front door. Why? Because while I was killing myself teaching the basics of grammar and sentence/paragraph structure, there was a black gentlemen from Angola teaching “The Literature of West Africa.” He had five classes to my four, but none of his classes had more than six students (90% of whom were African-American, 100% of whom were female.)They would draw pictures and sing songs (I kid you not) while I sweated over gerunds and participial phrases and Strunk & White’s rules. Of course, HE was getting full benefits and making a small fortune – which he spent on an endless array of bright African print dashikis – while I was paying for his generous salary by grossly over-extending myself and earning chump change. Even with this, the college lost big time on this “scholar” when it had to let him go and then cough up several hefty settlement sums for the sexual harrassment he’d visited upon his doe-eyed pupils.

    If only I’d been there to spit in the college’s collective eye!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely. My last semester I had classes that had a few students of other races, more than often they would distract from the class (unless they were Asian). This semester my classes are for the most part white and the speed, unity, and productivity of the classes amaze me. Not only was the instructor given an almost unquestioned respect, the class worked quickly and well as a unit getting work done, leaving extra time to improve our understanding and to study more. In participating in these classes, one gains a strong sense of connection to your fellow students and a sense of a goal as a class to succeed. Diversity in the class room wrecks this, as everyone is too distracted to get anything done and the teacher is too busy constantly reaffirming themselves.

    Europeans learn best when we work with fellow Europeans to study European curriculum.

  18. Anonymous says:


    I checked the video. THANKS for bring it up.

    Of course, it is just more of the same. God only knows how many such black racist hatemobs do the same thing every day. Many, that’s for sure.