Zoom out: An intervention on the virtual learning environment improves minority students' grades in two field experiments in Israel

Kinneret Endevelt, Eran Halperin, Roni Porat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Closing the achievement gap for minority students in higher education requires addressing the lack of belonging these students experience. This paper introduces a psychological intervention that strategically targets key elements within the learning environment to foster the success of minority students. The intervention sought to enhance Palestinian minority student's sense of belonging by increasing the presence of their native language. We tested the effectiveness of the intervention in two field experiments in Israel (n > 20,000), at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when all classes were held via Zoom. Lecturers in the experimental condition added a transcript of their names in Arabic to their default display (English/Hebrew only). Our findings revealed a substantial and positive impact on Palestinian student's sense of belonging, class participation, and overall grades. In experiment 1, Palestinian student's average grade increased by 10 points. In experiment 2, there was an average increase of 4 points among Palestinian students' semester grade. Our intervention demonstrates that small institutional changes when carefully crafted can have a significant impact on minority populations. These results have significant implications for addressing educational disparities and fostering inclusive learning environment.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)e2313496121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume121
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 May 2024

Keywords

  • belonging
  • field experiments
  • inequality
  • learning environment
  • psychological interventions

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