Article

Reducing the gender achievement gap in college science: a classroom study of values affirmation.

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 11/2010; 330(6008):1234-7. DOI: 10.1126/science.1195996
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, women are outperformed by men in test scores, jeopardizing their success in science-oriented courses and careers. The current study tested the effectiveness of a psychological intervention, called values affirmation, in reducing the gender achievement gap in a college-level introductory physics class. In this randomized double-blind study, 399 students either wrote about their most important values or not, twice at the beginning of the 15-week course. Values affirmation reduced the male-female performance and learning difference substantially and elevated women's modal grades from the C to B range. Benefits were strongest for women who tended to endorse the stereotype that men do better than women in physics. A brief psychological intervention may be a promising way to address the gender gap in science performance and learning.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Steven J. Pollock, Jul 01, 2015
2 Followers
 · 
221 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Vested interests and political agents have long opposed political or regulatory action in response to climate change by appealing to scientific uncertainty. Here we examine the effect of such contrarian talking points on the scientific community itself. We show that although scientists are trained in dealing with uncertainty, there are several psychological reasons why scientists may nevertheless be susceptible to uncertainty-based argumentation, even when scientists recognize those arguments as false and are actively rebutting them. Specifically, we show that prolonged stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance, and a form of projection (the third-person effect) may cause scientists to take positions that they would be less likely to take in the absence of outspoken public opposition. We illustrate the consequences of seepage from public debate into the scientific process with a case study involving the interpretation of temperature trends from the last 15 years. We offer ways in which the scientific community can detect and avoid such inadvertent seepage.
    Global Environmental Change 07/2015; 33. DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.02.013 · 6.00 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Stereotype threat " is a term used by social scientists to describe the anxiety one feels when one fears that he or she will confirm a negative stereotype about his or her own group. This anxiety impairs performance and reduces motivation by introducing a self-evaluative threat. More than 300 studies have verified that people underperform when put in situations that cause stereotype threat. Documented consequences of stereotype threat include decreased performance; blaming failure on internal, rather than external, causes; and distancing oneself from a setting that generates stereotype threat (e.g. changing one's major from engineering or computer science). Given the plethora of research available on practices that increase or reduce stereotype threat, a set of recommended practices can now be used in engineering education to reduce stereotype threat and thereby increase the performance of potentially threatened groups. In this paper, we provide an easy to use and research supported list of best practices to reduce stereotype threat in engineering education.
    2014 IEEE Frontiers in Education, Madrid, Spain; 10/2014
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Social threat can have adverse effects on cognitive performance, but the brain mechanisms underlying its effects are poorly understood. We investigated the effects of social evaluative threat on working memory (WM), a core component of many important cognitive capabilities. Social threat impaired WM performance during an N-back task and produced widespread reductions in activation in lateral prefrontal cortex and intraparietal sulcus (IPS), among other regions. In addition, activity in frontal and parietal regions predicted WM performance, and mediation analyses identified regions in the bilateral IPS that mediated the performance-impairing effects of social threat. Social threat also decreased connectivity between the IPS and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, while increasing connectivity between the IPS and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region strongly implicated in the generation of autonomic and emotional responses. Finally, cortisol response to the stressor did not mediate WM impairment but was rather associated with protective effects. These results provide a basis for understanding interactions between social and cognitive processes at a neural systems level.
    Cerebral Cortex 09/2014; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhu206 · 8.31 Impact Factor