South African Journal of Higher Education

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Race differences in academic expectations and perceptions of ability in relation to actual achievement

C Ochse


The main aim of this study was to explore theory and findings of past research to
gain insights regarding race differences in academic expectations, perceptions of
ability in relation to actual achievement. The sample consisted of 715 third year
psychology students from the University of South Africa. In contrast with previous
suggestions it was found that black students neither expected lower marks nor had
lower scores on self-perceptions of ability than white students. However, on
examining discrepancies between marks expected and marks obtained notable
differences between race groups became apparent. The data revealed that on
average white males had realistic expectations; black males and females
overestimated their future success, and white females underestimated their future
success. Furthermore, all race and gender groups had relatively high scores
relating to perceptions of ability; believed that they were above class average and
more intelligent than their school peers. The dangers of overly optimistic
expectations are addressed..

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 19 (2) 2006: pp.334-344
AJOL African Journals Online