Dr. Michael Lovaglia
Participation year
Project title

The Difference at the Top:  Examining the Achievement Gap Between White and Minority Students


The compendium of existing research that focuses on the gap in achievement between White and minority students has supplied compelling psychosocial explanations with empirical support.  Stereotype threat, the disruptive concern of confirming or being evaluated by a negative stereotype (Steele, 1997), has been extensively investigated as a factor that undermines the academic performance of stigmatized minorities.  The related theory of differential expected consequences (Lovaglia, 2004) proposes that minority students expect variegated aversive consequences for academic performance that may be socially discerned as higher as or lower than normal; this proposition has also been supported by the research literature.  For highly motivated and academically competent minority students performing within the collegiate context, the theory of differential expected consequences elicits the need for inquiry into the specific referenced the General Social Survey (GSS) to relate select SES variables to wordsum scores, and then administered the Student Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ) to graduate and undergraduate students from the six universities, with scales for Motivation for Achievement, Rewards of Success, and Cost or Penalties of Success.  The results confirmed the expectancy within minority students of undesirable consequences for performing too high or low.  Implications for interventions through teaching methods are discussed. 

Dillard University