Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Confidence Boosters

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Even at elite colleges, underrepresented minority students obtain lower GPAs than majority students. Two Stanford researchers hypothesized that a reason for this performance gap could be the minority students’ lack of confidence.

So they conducted a randomized controlled trial in which some first-year students read essays by upperclassmen of all races about how they too had trouble fitting into college at first. The nontreatment group read essays that had nothing to do with belonging.

After this short intervention, the investigators tracked the students until the end of college. They found that African-American students in the treatment group had higher GPAs and greater levels of happiness. The readings had no effect on white students. They published their results in Science.

If a brief confidence boosting halved the achievement gap, then imagine what more concerted efforts to address students’ self stereotyping could accomplish. The study also points to the social origins of academic performance.

Reviewing the Performance Review

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

UCLA professor of management Samuel Culbert has become a one-person army battling the annual performance review. The first salvo came in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2008.

In it, he argued that the reviews enact power plays between a boss and subordinate. They intimidate and subvert without having any impact on pay. Culbert has now expanded his diatribe into a book.

Instead of performance reviews, he recommends performance previews. These conversations would be more balanced and focused on what resources a worker needs to complete his or her tasks.

Culbert is thinking of for-profit institutions when he talks about performance reviews, but such corporate ideas have found a place in academia. In the Department of Medicine, section chiefs this month will be sitting down with faculty for their annual reviews. In the best cases, supervisors will use the opportunity to project ahead more than to dwell on the past.