For a long time, we have thought that students from different socioeconomic backgrounds have different levels of success due to the resources available to them in their schools and from their families. However, a new study from the University of Pennsylvania shows an equally important factor in a child’s success is how the study identifies and secures resources for himself.
The study found that the children who came from middle class families are more comfortable and assertive when asking their teachers for help than are the children who come from working class families. Because the students ask more often and more assertively, they often get more attention and assistance from their teachers, which in turn helps them do better in class.
The students who come from middle-class families often directly address the teachers in class and sometimes will even interrupt the teacher in order to make their questions known. The students who came from working-class families were more likely to wait for assistance and rarely sought it out themselves. If they did actually seek out assistance from the teacher, they were passive and waited longer for the teacher to notice them than the students from middle-class families did, on average.
According to Jessica McCrory Calarco, the author of the study, the children who are more comfortable asking for assistance might have learned to do so from their parents. These parents “also deliberately coach children on the language and strategies to use in making these requests [for additional help from the teachers].”