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ERIC Number: ED562496
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
The Behavioral Outcomes of a Self-Affirmation Intervention for Middle School Students
Schmidt, Alex; Canela, Carlos
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Social psychological interventions in schools have gained popularity in education research for their ability to often dramatically increase student academic performance through simple exercises. Many of these interventions are designed to address stereotype threat, which is defined as "being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one's group" (Steele & Aronson, 1995, p. 797). One of the social psychological interventions with the most drastic impact on the performance of students potentially affected by stereotype threat (i.e., African American students) was a set of self-affirmation exercises administered in racially diverse middle schools by Cohen and his colleagues (Cohen, Garcia, Apfel, & Master, 2006; Cohen, Garcia, Purdie-Vaughns, Apfel, & Brzustoski, 2009). The intervention, a brief writing exercise about why a value the student selected (e.g., friendship) is important to him or her, resulted in a 40 percent decrease in the racial grade point average gap in the year of administration (Cohen, Garcia, Apfel, & Master, 2006), as well as long-term increases in the grade point averages of African American students (Cohen, Garcia, Purdie-Vaughns, Apfel, & Brzustoski, 2009). While Cohen and his colleagues' (2006; 2009) self-affirmation intervention focused on academic achievement outcomes, there is evidence suggesting the intervention may also be able to elicit positive behavioral responses in students by supplementing their levels of self-control. Based on these findings, the authors sought to determine if a self-affirmation intervention can influence the behavior of middle school students over the course of three years, focusing on a measure of behavior that is both common in middle/high school settings and potentially related to students' ability to self-regulate: the number of office discipline referrals (ODRs) students receive over the course of a school year. For now, the authors found no strong evidence to suggest that self-affirmation exercises should be adopted as a strategy to address office discipline referral receipt in schools. Tables and figures are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; Grade 6; Intermediate Grades; Elementary Education; Grade 7; Grade 8; Grade 9; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin