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Effects and moderators of Stereotype threat in vocabulary/language learning situations among primary and secondary school students of Turkish origin

Stereotype threat (ST) describes the situation in which the knowledge of a negative stereotype targeting one’s own social group (ethnicity, gender) triggers the fear of confirming it. Numerous studies have demonstrated that ST – given otherwise equal performance prerequisites – entails marked performance deficits in testing situations. However, research has yet to examine whether ST brings to bear its detrimental effects only in performance situations or unfolds already in learning situations. Moreover, research needs to clarify whether ST leads to impairments in the acquisition of German language skills among Turkish students, a group of immigrant students that faces particularly negative performance stereotypes. Finally, only very few studies examine the role of teacher and student characteristics that moderate the effects of ST in learning situations.

Expanding previous research, the proposed research project will examine the effects of implicit (subtle) and explicit (direct) ST in a learning situation focusing the acquisition of German vocabulary. Individual characteristics of students of Turkish and German origin (strength of identification with scholastic achievement, with verbal competence, with culture of origin, and with culture of host country) as well as individual characteristics of teachers (ethnic background, personal beliefs regarding the causes of differences in learning achievements between students of Turkish and German origin, educative encouragement in a ST-situation) will be examined in their role as potential moderators of ST effects. Hereby, we will study students of two different age groups (4th and 8th grade) as well as students of different school forms (elementary school, secondary school/comprehensive school, Gymnasium). Relevant indicators for ST mechanisms will be assessed. Experimental study designs are selected, which, by means of comparing different interventions, allow causal inferences and pave the way for developing interventions that foster the acquisition of German language skills among students of Turkish origin at school.