Students surveyed about pressures

Our class, Race and Social Justice, conducted a survey of 241 DHS students, asking about pressures they experience while attending high school. The majority feel more pressure in the academic domain than in social and athletic domains.

We found that Asians feel most pressure in the academic domain and least in the area of social acceptance. Caucasians (the majority group) feel less academic pressure and more social pressure than Asians. All ethnic groups feel most pressure from parents and self than from teachers and peers, but in comparing the two largest groups, Caucasians and Asians, we found that Asians feel more pressure from parents than the Caucasians do. (Latinos are similar to the Asian group.)

We asked whether students feel pressure based on their ethnicity. Caucasians overwhelmingly said no; the other relatively large groups (Asians and Latinos) said yes. There weren’t enough African-Americans to provide representative results, but when asked if they feel expected to be more or less successful based on race, 87 percent said yes.

We concluded that the majority whites take their majority position for granted, leaving them unworried about being compared to other ethnic groups. The minority groups seem more concerned about pressures and social judgments related to their race or ethnicity. This gives them something extra to be worried about.

Finally, students were asked whether they ever cheated. Comparing the three largest groups — Caucasians, Asians and Latinos — Asians are most likely to have cheated, Latinos are the least likely and Caucasians fall in between. More than half of the Asians and Caucasians had cheated.

Overall, DHS students feel a lot of pressure to succeed, and this sometimes encourages them to cheat. Parents should encourage their children to do well but also emphasize the importance of honesty. Parents and teachers also should work to reduce special concerns related to race and ethnicity. Students are under enough pressure from school alone not to also have to worry about race and ethnicity.

Danielle Goodman-Shaver

on behalf of DHS Race and Social Justice period 3 “Pressure within Ethnicities” research group

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