In recent years, there has been a rising demand for diversity in classrooms from educators and parents. Now, a recent study has discovered that students themselves, regardless of their race and ethnicity, prefer teachers of color over teachers who are white. Assistant Professors Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng and Peter Halpin of New York University came to this conclusion after analyzing data collected from the Measure of Effective Teaching study, which was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Cherng and Halpin focused on sixth through ninth grade teachers from over 300 schools all around the country. They examined 30-question surveys completed by the students. The surveys were comprised of questions such as “How well does your teacher motivate students to high academic standard?” and “How well does your teacher stimulate student’s interest in course material?” Cherng and Halpin found that all the students, including those who were white, had more positive perceptions of teachers who were minorities compared to those who were white. “Minority teachers may be perceived more favorably by minority students because they can serve as role models and are particularly sensitive to the cultural needs of their students,” says Cherng.
All of the students had perceived that their minority teachers held them to high academic standards and provided them with unique perspectives on life. According to the U.S Department of Education, the majority of the student population is composed of minorities, while the vast majority of the teacher population is composed of instructors who are white. However, Cherng says that this research is not a condemnation of white teachers. Instead, the study should be used to find a way to improve how students are taught in classrooms. Collectively, the results of these studies should be used to benefit students and teachers alike. As a university that prides itself in its diversity, NJIT seems to be moving in a positive direction.