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Cooperative learning can reduce racial disparities in educational outcomes

Despite Brown vs. Board of Education, prejudice still exists in the American school system. These attitudes can give rise to negative social experiences for students of color (i.e., discrimination), negatively impacting their mental and physical health and creating disparities in educational outcomes. Rather than seeking to ameliorate these negative experiences, our approach attempts to address the underlying prejudices and, in so doing, reduce these disparities. Using 4 waves of data from a cluster randomized trial (N = 15 middle schools, 1,890 students, 47.1% female, 75.2% White), we hypothesized that cooperative learning, which has been shown to reduce prejudice in previous research, would create positive gains in peer relatedness, perceptions of academic support, and engagement in learning, and that gains would be larger for students of color; our results confirmed these hypotheses. Our findings highlight the potential role of cooperative learning in reducing disparities and creating greater equity in education.

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