Jessica Good Speaks on Stereotyping and Discrimination in Colloquium Series

Photograph by Miranda Harple

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

By Thea Toocheck, Staff Writer

On Friday, November 2, the department of Psychology hosted a presentation in its ongoing Kenneth L. Smoke Colloquium Series. Jessica J. Good, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Davidson College in North Carolina gave a presentation on her ongoing research regarding stereotyping and discrimination entitled “Classroom Diversity: Emphasize Similarities or Embrace Differences?”

Good began by defining the social practices of color blindness and multiculturalism. Color blindness treats individuals as race-neutral, while multiculturalism recognize racial differences. While well-intentioned, Good noted, color blindness is impractical and ignores traditional heritage and knowledge of various groups. It pushes for conformity with a majority, putting minority groups at a disadvantage. In addition, it is impossible for the average individual to completely eradicate biases in perception.

Multiculturalism, on the other hand, values group differences and underscores cultural inclusion. It is “not a panacea,” Good admitted, but it is superior to color blindness. One must be careful in its application, however, in order to avoid tokening individuals or trivializing differences. “I love diversity! I love Mexican food and Indian food,” Good quipped as an example.

According to Good’s studies, color blindness leads to greater bias and race avoidance but also lower detection of racial discrimination among white students. However, in multicultural settings, underrepresented groups tend to do better academically as compared to color blind settings. She has concluded that the way society discusses differences and similarities can influence expectations about environments and expected and actual performance.

Good has analyzed American universities’ diversity statements in order to classify them as either color blind or multicultural and was impressed by how multicultural Gettysburg’s was. A student in the audience raised a hand, admitting that this was great but that students do not often enact the diversity statement in the classroom. Good encouraged students to reach out; by regularly choosing different classroom partners and by inviting others to campus events, students can begin to understand various perspectives and beliefs.

Professors, meanwhile, can encourage diversity in the classroom by including personal diversity statements and indicating gender pronouns on syllabi. In addition, they can cite authors from diverse backgrounds, frequently mix students for group work, and grade assignments name-blind. Good admitted that she has begun grading assignments name-blind in her own classroom and has noted a difference in the way she grades assignments.

Good received her Ph.D. and her M.A. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and her B.A. from Washington & Lee University. She joined the faculty at Davidson in 2011 and currently serves as Interim Chair for the Society for the Teaching of Psychology’s Early Career Psychologist Council. She has received grants and fellowships as well as awards for both teaching and research.

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Author: Thea Toocheck

Thea Toocheck '21 plans to double-major in English and History. She loves traveling (she's been to six continents), reading, writing (she's self-published four books), musicals, and her dog (his name is Cosmo). Thea is also a fan of sleeping, Harry Potter, and anything Disney. Follow her on Instagram @theajoytooch.

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