Teachers play an important role in respecting diversity

September 11, 2023

Researchers have identified how teacher feedback can affect children’s acceptance of migrant peers. They conducted a study with nearly 1,000 students in Grades 3 to 6 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. First, students saw photos of children they did not know on a computer screen and were asked to rate how much they would like to sit beside them. The photos included both migrant and non-migrant children. Then students were told that teachers often praised the children on the screen for being attentive or, alternatively, often scolded them for being inattentive. Teacher feedback significantly influenced students’ stated willingness to sit beside migrant children, with positive comments increasing this willingness and negative comments decreasing it. These results suggest that teachers can play an important role in changing children’s attitudes and helping them to appreciate diversity. For more information, see Vol. 15, No. 3 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.