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Is There A Place for Me? Role Models and Academic Identity Among White Students and Students of Color


by Sabrina Zirkel — 2002

Role models have long been thought to play an important role in young peoples’ development. The present study explores the ways that race- and gender-matched role models can provide young people with a greater sense of the opportunities available to them in the world. A longitudinal study of young adolescents (N = 80) revealed that students who reported having at least one race- and gender-matched role model at the beginning of the study performed better academically up to 24 months later, reported more achievement-oriented goals, enjoyed achievement-relevant activities to a greater degree, thought more about their futures, and looked up to adults rather than peers more often than did students without a race- and gender-matched role model. These effects held only for race- and gender-matched role models—not for non-matched role models. Finally, the results held irrespective of the educational achievements of the specific role model. Data are discussed in terms of their implications for our understanding of the ways that young people become invested in academic pursuits and the means by which we might be able to assist goal development among young people.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 2, 2002, p. 357-376
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10832, Date Accessed: 10/24/2017 3:43:40 AM

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About the Author
  • Sabrina Zirkel
    Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center
    E-mail Author
    SABRINA ZIRKEL, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social Transformation program at Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center. Her research interests include the development of self and identity, with an emphasis on the development of specific academic identities among students of color and women. Recent publications include a chapter on social intelligence in the Handbook of Emotional Intelligence and papers on informal barriers to women in engineering.
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