Beyond students: how teacher psychology shapes educational inequality

Kate M. Turetsky, Stacey Sinclair, Jordan G. Starck, J. Nicole Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although researchers investigating psychological contributors to educational inequality have traditionally focused on students, a growing literature highlights the importance of teachers’ psychology in shaping disparities in students’ educational achievement and attainment. In this review, we discuss recent advances linking teachers’ attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs to inequality in students’ outcomes. First, we identify specific aspects of teacher psychology that contribute to educational disparities, including teachers’ biases, perceptions and expectations of students, beliefs about the nature of ability, and beliefs about group differences. Second, we synthesize mechanisms underlying the effects of teacher psychology on educational inequality, including teachers’ disparate assessment of students’ work and abilities, interpersonal interaction with students, and psychological impact on students. Implications for future research and interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-709
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • achievement gap
  • discrimination
  • educational disparities
  • pedagogical practice
  • teaching


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