Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Stacy Wood

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This study focuses on accommodating remote academic lessons for students’ personal verve levels. Personal verve is defined as the ability to adapt to and concentrate in environments with high levels of stimulation. The sociocultural psychologists Boykin discerned higher verve levels in Black communities compared to White communities. Boykin found that many Black students tend to learn best in high verve conditions, which incorporate aspects of African American culture like group work, varied activities, movement and noise, as opposed to traditional low verve conditions which consist of sitting quietly at a desk during lectures. White students tend to have low personal verve and thus excel in low verve academic environments. The prevalence of low verve conditions in Western education has contributed significantly to the achievement gap between Black and White students in America. With the onset of the pandemic and subsequent remote learning, the achievement gap threatens to widen due to discrepancies in resources students have at home. In order to maintain engagement and participation from all students, schools could incorporate high verve lessons into their curriculum. This study will measure the personal verve of 150 students from Pasadena High School before randomly assigning them to a high verve or low verve remote lessons on 15 SAT vocabulary words. They will take a pretest and posttest on the words, then complete an Engagement and Motivation Questionnaire, and answer demographic questions. Results are predicted to show slightly improved performance and increased motivation and engagement in all students assigned to high verve conditions, but a significantly greater increase in Black and Latinx students. This study has the potential to provide schools with remote lesson plans that will prevent the achievement gap from widening during the pandemic by effectively teaching students with high verve.