AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 21 Astronomy Education Research
Poster, Monday, January 5, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Hanover Hall

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[21.01] Does Stereotype Threat Affect Post-Course Scores on the Astronomy Diagnostic Test?

G. L. Deming (Univ. of Maryland), B. Hufnagel (Anne Arundel CC), J. M. Landato (W. R. Harper College), A. K. Hodari (CNA)

During the 1990s, Claude Steele and others demonstrated that women mathematics students under-performed while men over-performed on selected GRE questions when told that the exam could differentiate by gender. Stereotype threat is triggered for these women when they fear someone else may negatively stereotype them, and therefore, their performance is affected. In a limited study involving 229 students, we investigated the effect of stereotype threat on performance on the Astronomy Diagnostic Test (ADT). The ADT was administered as a pre-test in four introductory astronomy classes intended for non-science majors. The same professors taught pairs of classes at the University of Maryland, a large research institution, and W. R. Harper College, a small liberal arts school. The classes were treated the same until the final day before the post-course ADT was given. One "threatened" class at each campus was told that gender mattered so they should be sure to include it on the ADT. The "control" classes were told that gender does not matter. The results show no stereotype threat effect on the women in these introductory classes. The university men did slightly over-perform at low statistical significance. As Steele suggested, students must identify with a subject in order to strongly invoke a stereotype threat.

This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation through grants REC-0089239 to GLD, DGE-97014489 to BH, and DGE-9714452 for AKH.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: deming@astro.umd.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.