09 SES 01 C, Assessments in Secondary Education: Gender Differences in Competencies and Attitudes
Parallel Paper Session
Gender differences in performance, interest, motivation, and participation in sciences are continuously the focus of study (Lavonen, et al., 2008; Miyake, et al., 2010; Tucker, Hanuscin, & Bearnes, 2008). Recent international large-scale assessments such as PISA and TIMSS reveal gender differences in attitudes toward science and in science knowledge domains (OECD, 2007a, 2007b; Martin, et al., 2008). Boys significantly outperformed girls in interest in learning science topics, self-concept in science, future-oriented motivation, and domains such as physical systems and earth and space systems (OECD, 2007a, 2007b). Despite the outperformance of girls on the international average of physical science in the 4th grade, girls turned to be outscored by boys in the 8th grade (Martin, et al., 2008). These findings beg the question why girls’ performance, interest, and aptitude in science decreased.
One social-psychological explanation for the gender gap is the existence of the stereotype threat, fears of being “at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group” (Steele & Aroson, 1995, p.797). Its negative effect on performance is more threatening when one identifies with the stereotype-relevant domains (Keller, 2007; Steele, 1997, 2010). Individuals who endorse stereotype more are more vulnerable to stereotype threat (Schmader, Johns, & Barquissau, 2004). Negative stereotype go through pathways of internalization (i.e. one’s negative stereotype belief of his/her group) and externalization (i.e. one’s perception of others’ negative stereotype of his/her group) to influence performance (Owens & Massey, 2011). In school, teachers’ modeling and expectations play an influential role in students’ performance (Brophy & Good, 1970; Jussim & Harbe, 2005). In Taiwan, 47% teachers and 44% secondary school students believe that “boys are more suitable to learn sciences than girls” (Chen, 2006). It would be valuable to investigate individual’s internal stereotype endorsement, salience of external stereotype (i.e. teachers’ stereotype perceived by students), and domain identification for further understanding the mechanism of stereotype threat.
Studies have shown that gender stereotype threat undermines women’s performance (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999; Steele, 2010), perceptual learning (Rydell, Shiffrin, Boucher, Van Loo, & Rydell, 2010), and participation (Murphy, Steele, & Gross, 2007; Steele, James, & Barnett, 2002). It has been studied in numerous laboratory experiments (e.g. Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2003; Logel, Iserman, Davies, Quinn, & Spencer, 2009). However, results in generalizing laboratory findings to real-world settings are inconsistent. Some showed no significant effects (Stricker & Ward, 2004, 2008), while others provide difference in support of gender stereotype threat effects in classroom settings (Good, Aronson, & Harder, 2008; Keller, 2007). In addition, gender gap in science achievements becomes larger in secondary school stage. Research in gender stereotype threat focus on cross-sectional studies with more selective university students, who are filtered through ability performance tests. Little research endeavors to longitudinal study of gender stereotype threat with less selective secondary school students. The study aims to examine boys’ and girls’ science gender stereotype belief, perceived classroom science gender stereotype, and science identification through a three-year tracking of secondary students to explore gender difference in science.
Brophy, J., & Good, T.L. (1970). Teachers’ communication of different expectations for children’s classroom performance: Some behavioral data. Journal of Educational Psychology, 61, 365-374. Cheng, Y.Y., Liu, K.S, & Chen, Y.L. (2008). Rasch analysis of item quality in teacher-made science achievement test. Paper presented at the 2008 Asia-Pacific Education Research Association Conference. National Institute of Education, Singapore. Cheng, Y.Y., Liu, K.S., Chung, S.H., & Chang, Y.R. (2009). Development of the Science Gender Stereotype Inventory and the Science Identification Inventory. Paper presented at the 16th International Meeting of the Psychometric Society. St John's College, Cambridge. Martin, M.O., Mullis, I.V.S., Foy, P., Olson, J.F., Erberber, E., Preuschoff, C., & Galia, J. (2008). TIMSS 2007 international science report: Findings from IEA’s trends in International mathematics and science study at the fourth and eighth grades. TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Chestnut Hill, MA., Boston college. OECD. (2007b). PISA 2006: Volume II: Data. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/30/18/39703566.pdf Owens, J., Massey, D.S., (2011) Stereotype threat and college academic performance: A latent variables approach. Social Science Research, 40, 150-166. Schmader, T., Johns, M., & Barquissau, M. (2004). The costs of accepting gender differences: The role of stereotype endorsement in women’s experience in the math domain. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 50, 835-850. Simpkins, S.D., Davis-Kean, P.E., & Eccels, J.S. (2006). Math and science motivation: A longitudinal examination of the links between choices and beliefs. Developmental Psychology, 42(1), 70-83. Steele, C.M. & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 797-811. Steele, C.M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotype shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52(6), 613-629. Steele, C.M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us. New York, Norton.
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