Saturday, March 31, 2007

Suggesting Expectations

A few months ago, this study covered briefly by the Washington Post is interesting.
Telling women they cannot do well in math may turn out to be a self-fulfilling statement.

In tests in Canada, women who were told that men and women do math equally well did much better than those who were told there is a genetic difference in math ability.

And women who heard there were differences caused by environment -- such as math teachers giving more attention to boys -- outperformed those who were simply reminded they were female.

The women who did better in the tests got nearly twice as many right answers as those in the other groups, said Steven J. Heine, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

"The findings suggest that people tend to accept genetic explanations as if they're more powerful or irrevocable, which can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies," Heine said.
I can't help but wonder if before giving these high stress achievement tests if we should put together a carefully worded pep talk about how well our students always do by being conscientious and so on.

It might raise the scores simply by suggesting the scores will be higher.



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