Pen-pal connections: exploring interactions between middle school students of different races





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The research question addressed by this capstone study was, how do Caucasian eighth grade students describe their interactions with students of another race through pen-pal and face-to-face exchanges? Students from a dominantly white, Catholic preK-8 school were paired with students from a Hmong school. Gordon Allport's Intergroup Contact Theory was an important basis for this study, which emphasizes how interaction between different groups of people will reduce prejudice. The research also discusses theories of how children form their perceptions of race, white privilege, aversive racism, and using pen-pals in a classroom. Four of the Caucasian students' experiences are examined through data collected from student journals, observations, and interviews. Even though the pen-pal exchange was short, the results show support for Intergroup Contact Theory along with it being a positive experience for students.

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