Tag Archives: High-stakes tests

University of Minnesota study: Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap

30 Dec

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening.
The Jan. 30 report from STEMconnector and My College Options — titled “Where Are the STEM Students?” — underscores the importance of these fields for our nation’s future economic well-being. It also presents a challenge for all of us in education, from kindergarten through college, to increase interest levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the so-called STEM fields — for all types of students.
While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.
How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.
Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions.
But thanks to the rise of cloud computing, information systems and the app economy, 71 percent of the new STEM jobs in 2018 are projected to be in the computing fields. Getting girls interested in these fields at a young age will be critical if we are to meet the coming demand for talented and well-educated computer scientists, computer engineers and game designers.
With this in mind, it’s important to convey to young women computing’s role in serving society. We should show a young woman how a computer science degree could equip her to design a new app to diagnose illness. That may appeal more to her desire to help others than, say, showing her how to write code for yet another online game.
Programs like Project Lead the Way, which introduces middle school and high school students to engineering and science, help students learn more about these fields at an early age. In Missouri, 165 high schools and middle schools are using PLTW’s engineering and biomedical sciences materials to generate more interest in those areas. http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Science Daily reported in Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap:

Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses….
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171228170646.htm

Citation:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
Findings suggest that changing how instructors assess students could help close the achievement gap in introductory STEM courses
Date: December 28, 2017
Source: University of Minnesota
Summary:
ale students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.

Journal Reference:
1. Sehoya Cotner, Cissy J. Ballen. Can mixed assessment methods make biology classes more equitable? PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0189610 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189610

Here is the press release from the University of Minnesota:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
December 27, 2017
Contacts
Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses.
“This is not simply due to a ‘watering down’ of poor performance through the use of easy points,” says Cotner. “Rather, on the exams themselves, women perform on par with men when the stakes are not so high.”
The researchers point to these varied assessments as a potential reason why the active-learning approach, which shifts the focus away from lectures and lecture halls to more collaborative spaces and group-based work, appears to decrease the performance gap between students.
“As people transition to active learning, they tend to incorporate a diversity of low-stakes, formative assessments into their courses,” Cotner says. “We think that it is this use of mixed assessment that advantages students who are otherwise underserved in the large introductory science courses.”
Cotner and Ballen also see their findings as a potential to reframe gaps in student performance.
“Many barriers students face can be mitigated by instructional choices,” says Cotner. “We conclude by challenging the student deficit model, and suggest a course deficit model as explanatory of these performance gaps, whereby the microclimate of the classroom can either raise or lower barriers to success for underrepresented groups in STEM.”

The University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences seeks to improve human welfare and global conditions by advancing knowledge of the mechanisms of life and preparing students to create the biology of tomorrow. Learn more at cbs.umn.edu.

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein. https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/31/study-elementary-school-teachers-have-an-impact-on-girls-math-learning/

Related:

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning? https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

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