n South African Journal of Higher Education - Race differences in academic expectations and perceptions of ability in relation to actual achievement

Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



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.

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