Assessing does not mean threatening: the purpose of assessment as a key determinant of girls' and boys' performance in a science class.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Is it possible to reach performance equality between boys and girls in a science class? Given the stereotypes targeting their groups in scientific domains, diagnostic contexts generally lower girls' performance and non-diagnostic contexts may harm boys' performance. AIM The present study tested the effectiveness of a mastery-oriented assessment, allowing both boys and girls to perform at an optimal level in a science class. SAMPLE Participants were 120 boys and 72 girls (all high-school students). METHODS Participants attended a science lesson while expecting a performance-oriented assessment (i.e., an assessment designed to compare and select students), a mastery-oriented assessment (i.e., an assessment designed to help students in their learning), or no assessment of this lesson. RESULTS In the mastery-oriented assessment condition, both boys and girls performed at a similarly high level, whereas the performance-oriented assessment condition reduced girls' performance and the no-assessment condition reduced boys' performance. CONCLUSIONS One way to increase girls' performance on a science test without harming boys' performance is to present assessment as a tool for improving mastery rather than as a tool for comparing performances.

DOI: 10.1111/bjep.12012

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Cite this paper

@article{Souchal2014AssessingDN, title={Assessing does not mean threatening: the purpose of assessment as a key determinant of girls' and boys' performance in a science class.}, author={Carine Souchal and M. Toczek and C{\'e}line Darnon and Annique Smeding and Fabrizio Butera and Delphine Martinot}, journal={The British journal of educational psychology}, year={2014}, volume={84 Pt 1}, pages={125-36} }