Seminário GI SPARC

Seminários GI
Qui . 28 Set . 14h00
Sala 2 & Zoom
Seminário GI SPARC
Rui C. Lopes, Mafalda Mascarenhas e Ricardo Rodrigues

September 28, 14h30-16h00

In the next SPARC seminar, Rui C. Lopes, Mafalda Mascarenhas, and Ricardo Rodrigues will present the paper Subtle signs of biases in teachers’ perceptions and recommendations for White and Black students in Portugal.

As usual the seminar will take place in hybrid format

(Room 2 and zoom)



Subtle signs of biases in teachers’ perceptions and recommendations for White and Black students in Portugal

Rui Costa Lopes, ICS – ULisboa

Mafalda F. Mascarenhas, ICS – ULisboa

Ricardo Borges Rodrigues, Iscte – IUL

Black students in high school in Portugal are twice more likely to be placed in professional education than White students - a path that hinders access to higher studies and might put those students in disadvantaged positions. Explanations for inequalities in education outcomes often focus on students’ achievement, family resources, and structural factors such as the place of residence. Assuming that this phenomenon may also be influenced by racially biased perceptions and recommendations from teachers in lower secondary education, a survey was conducted to assess these dimensions among a sample of approximately 1000 teachers in Portugal.

This study sought to answer the question of whether teachers make different recommendations for Black and White students. Furthermore, it intended to understand if teachers’ potentially biased perceptions of achievement and behavior influence their recommendations and expectations regarding Black and White students’ school paths. 

To this end, all teachers filled out a survey where they were presented with a vignette depicting a single case of a student with below average performance and (somewhat) positive behavior and were asked about their expectations, perceptions and recommendations regarding this student. A third of the sample saw that information associated with a picture of a White student, another third saw it associated with a picture of a Black student and another third saw it with no picture associated.

Results from the survey provide no clear and robust evidence of systematic biases of Portuguese White teachers towards Black students. However, several important exceptions indicate subtle signs of these biases. Namely, results indicate that information about performance and behavior is differently mobilized to sustain biased recommendations favoring White students or disfavoring Black students. Moreover, the simple mention of a White vs. a Black student is enough to trigger different word usages within open-ended questions.