“Stereotype threat” refers to the idea that negative stereotypes can be self-fulfilling, with individuals’ performance suffering as a result. In a new article, French researchers have examined whether the order in which tests are taken can affect girls' maths performance. They conducted studies with French middle school pupils (Ns = 1,127 and 498), first with a maths test being taken before a verbal test, and then the other way around with the verbal test being taken first. The researchers predicted that taking the maths test before the verbal test would be detrimental to girls' maths performance – a stereotype threat (ST) effect.
They found that girls underperformed on the maths test relative to boys in the maths-verbal order condition (ST effect), but performed as well as boys in the verbal-maths order condition. Moreover, girls' maths performance was higher in the verbal-maths order condition than in the maths-verbal order condition. In a second study, additional measures looking at pupils' self-evaluations in and perceptions of the maths and verbal domains provided complementary evidence that only girls who took the maths test first experienced ST.
In a previous issue of Best Evidence in Brief we reported on the influence of stereotype threat on the achievement of boys.
Source: Order of Administration of Math and Verbal Tests: An Ecological Intervention to Reduce Stereotype Threat on Girls' Math Performance (2013),Journal of Educational Psychology.