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Study Examines Asian-American Students

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Teachers tend to give preferential treatment to Asian-American children, with both positive and negative consequences for the students, a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University has found.

The two-year study conducted by Barbara L. Schneider, assistant professor of education, and Yongsook Lee, a graduate student, compared Asian-American and Anglo-American students in 5th- through 8th-grade classrooms in two Chicago-area schools. The research included student responses on questionnaires and essays, school records, observation, and interviews with students, parents, and teachers.

Teachers perceived Asian-American students to be "industrious, quiet, organized, and respectful," the study found. And even when an individual child's behavior or performance deviated from the stereotype, the teacher was unlikely to notice or attach significance to it.

The academic achievements of the Asian students regularly surpassed those of their counterparts, the study found.

But teachers, accepting the Asians' "quiet" behavior as a norm, reinforced the stereotype by calling on Asian children less frequently4during class discussions, Ms. Schneider said. As a result, she said, the students' social skills were less developed.

She also said teachers encouraged Asian-Americans to pursue science-oriented fields, rather than the more "language-oriented" professions, such as law and politics.--ant

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