Metis Post-Secondary Students and the Demotivating Effects of Possible Prejudice
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There is a wealth of research showing the demotivating effects of prejudice on the academic achievement of historically marginalized social groups. However, there is a lack of research involving Metis students. The purpose of the present study was to examine how the task performance and attitudes of Metis post-secondary students can be influenced by prejudice. Data from 165 Metis post-secondary students were analyzed. The participants were asked to role play applying for a job with a non-Aboriginal employment manager, who may or may not have held negative attitudes towards Aboriginal people. The study involved a 2 X 3 research design. The participants were categorized into two groups: High and low Metis identifiers. They were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) Prejudiced (manager held negative attitudes about Aboriginal people); (2) Unknown attitudes (students were not given any information about the manager’s attitudes), and; (3) Non-prejudiced (manager thought favourably about Aboriginal people). The participants completed a battery of questionnaires, the scores of which functioned as dependent variables: the Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT) was used to assess verbal fluency, and to infer motivation; the Selection Attitudes (SA) Scale was used to assess the students’ expectations of being hired, the value they placed on being hired, their motivation to perform the verbal task, as well as their beliefs about the manager’s sense of fairness; and the Stereotyping of Whites (SW) Scale which assessed the extent to which the participants stereotyped the non-Aboriginal employment manager. The Metis Identity (MI) Scale was used to categorize the participants into high or low Metis identifiers. As a preliminary procedure, a psychometric investigation was conducted on the Metis Identity (MI) and Selection Attitudes (SA) Scales. The investigation found the MI Scale to be a reliable measure of high or low Metis identity. The SA Scale consisted of four subscales: expectations, valuing, motivation, and fairness. The valuing subscale was shown to be unreliable and therefore removed from the SA Scale. The primary analysis tested six research hypotheses, which considered the extent to which the high and low Metis identifiers responded to the questionnaires within each of the three research conditions (Prejudiced, Unknown attitudes, Non-prejudiced). It was hypothesised that, while the reactions of the high and low Metis identifiers would not differ significantly in the Prejudiced condition (i.e., where the possibility of prejudice was likely and imminent), the reactions of the high identifiers would be significantly more negative than the reactions of the low identifiers in the Unknown and Non-prejudiced conditions (i.e., where the possibility of prejudice was either ambiguous or unlikely). The hypotheses were not supported. Although there were no significant interaction effects that would support the hypotheses, there were several main effects for both the Metis identity and Prejudice factors. The high Metis identifiers reported more motivation and overall optimism about being hired than did the low identifiers. There were also several main effects for the Prejudice factor. Participants in the Prejudiced condition reported less of an expectation of being hired than those students in either the unknown attitudes or non-prejudice conditions. The participants in the Prejudiced condition also reported less motivation to perform the verbal fluency task to the best of their ability than did the participants in the unknown attitudes condition. The participants in the Prejudiced condition also stereotyped the manager more negatively than those participants in the other two, less threatening conditions. Even though the participants in the Prejudiced condition reacted more negatively to the possibility of prejudice than did those in the Unknown attitudes and Non-prejudiced conditions, whether the participants were high or low Metis identifiers did not significantly influence their reactions. In addition to the primary analyses, multiple regression analyses were performed with the COWAT and motivation as dependent variables. The analysis found that length of post-secondary education, reported motivation, and perceived fairness predicted the COWAT. The Selection Attitudes (SA) Scale and Metis Identity (MI) Scale predicted reported motivation. The study showed that Metis post-secondary students can react negatively to perceived prejudice, especially when it appears to be likely and imminent. However, their reactions may have little to do with whether they are high or low Metis identifiers. Since the perceived possibility of prejudice can influence Metis post-secondary students, it is important for non-Aboriginal educators to be aware of their attitudes and beliefs about Metis students in order to better appreciate how these beliefs can influence their students for the better or worse.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeOlver, Mark; Wotherspoon, Terry; Marche, Tammy; O'Reilly, Kathleen
Copyright DateNovember 2015
Aboriginal Metis Prejudice Academic performance