Male and rich, here is a sketch of the student preferred by professors. So say researchers from the universities of Tübingen and Maastricht in a study published in the journal Gifted Child Quarterly.
According to the study, teachers have biases in school evaluations regarding girls and children who come from more economically disadvantaged families. Experts have ‘quantified this phenomenon: they are at least one and a half times more likely to believe that boys are more gifted than girls who are equally so.
Moreover, the researchers say, teachers are more likely to regard children from high-educated families as highly gifted.
The researchers call attention to an underestimated problem, as it is teachers who nominate students for certain support or merit programs, and some groups are systematically disadvantaged, regardless of their ability, motivation or personality.
“Teachers should question their ideas about pupil talent,” says Jessika Golle, assistant professor at the Hector Research Institute of Education and one of the study’s authors. To find out what actually leads teachers to rate a child as gifted, the researchers evaluated data from a long-term study in the Netherlands.
For the study, about 27,000 sixth-grade students and about 1,300 teachers were interviewed. The children completed a test that mapped their general cognitive ability, as well as tests that showed their academic performance, and answered a questionnaire that established their personality traits.