VSL:SCIENCE // Writing off the racial gap

Researchers believe that poor self-esteem accounts for the low scores that some minority students get on standardized tests. But a new study argues that a simple essay exercise can reverse this effect.

Three years ago, University of Colorado psychologist Geoffrey Cohen found that black students who spent 15 minutes writing about a value they held dear before taking a standardized test outscored their black peers — and closed the gap between their scores and the scores of white students by more than 50 percent. Now Cohen has released a new study, which finds that black students who wrote such essays three to five times a year consistently outperformed black students who wrote about their morning routines, and scored half a grade higher on their report cards. (White students who performed the same exercise showed no perceptible improvement.)

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

VSL:SCIENCE // Writing off the racial gap