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Cogn Sci. 2018 Mar;42(2):678-690. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12558. Epub 2017 Dec 1.

Stereotype Threat Effects on Learning From a Cognitively Demanding Mathematics Lesson.

Author information

1
Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago.
2
Psychology Department, Northwestern University.
3
Psychology Department, Temple University.

Abstract

Stereotype threat-a situational context in which individuals are concerned about confirming a negative stereotype-is often shown to impact test performance, with one hypothesized mechanism being that cognitive resources are temporarily co-opted by intrusive thoughts and worries, leading individuals to underperform despite high content knowledge and ability (see Schmader & Beilock, ). We test here whether stereotype threat may also impact initial student learning and knowledge formation when experienced prior to instruction. Predominantly African American fifth-grade students provided either their race or the date before a videotaped, conceptually demanding mathematics lesson. Students who gave their race retained less learning over time, enjoyed the lesson less, reported a diminished desire to learn more, and were less likely to choose to engage in an optional math activity. The detrimental impact was greatest among students with high baseline cognitive resources. While stereotype threat has been well documented to harm test performance, the finding that effects extend to initial learning suggests that stereotype threat's contribution to achievement gaps may be greatly underestimated.

KEYWORDS:

Achievement gaps; Cognitive load; Learning; Performance pressure; Situational Interest; Stereotype threat

PMID:
29194740
DOI:
10.1111/cogs.12558

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