03 April 2008

How stereotyping affects testing and performance

The group is developing an online game called Trait Mate to measure and modify children's stereotypical beliefs. By the age of 5, stereotypes about gender have been indoctrinated.

“Stereotype threat can be induced by a variety of subtle cues in the
testing environment,” McGlone said, “such as the gender composition of a
class or being asked to indicate one’s ethnicity or gender on a test
demographics question. These cues heightened awareness of people’s
‘ascribed identities’—for example, identities based on things about
themselves that they can’t easily change.”

McGlone acknowledged that many aspects of personal identity are
achieved—membership in social categories based on individual
achievements—rather than ascribed. He contended that deficits in test
performance caused by stereotype threat could be mitigated by reminding
test takers of the achieved identities they possess for which there are
positive performance expectations.

“In other words, by putting women in a situation where they’re not
preoccupied with negative gender stereotypes, you can significantly reduce
the gender gap in standardized testing performance,” he said.

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