This research snapshot provides an overview of a project led by Neil Lewis, Jr. and Rene Kizilcec, funded through the SERN K-12 Teachers and Classrooms Research Portfolio. The study investigates the psychological experience of more than 106,000 high school students from across the United States who were enrolled in Code.org's Advanced Placement Computer Science course during the 2017-2018 school year. The researchers examine relationships between student demographics, mindsets, and course outcomes.
In STEM project group teams, men speak for more time (Meadows and Sekaquaptewa, 2011) and engage in more active technical participation than women, which can have negative long-term consequences (Cheryan et al., 2017; Lord et al., 2011). In the current study, we tested the effects of a brief counter-stereotypic video intervention on gender gaps in verbal participation on mixed-gender teams of STEM students (N =143). Participants viewed either a control video of an engineering student team behaving in a gender stereotype-consistent way (men talked longer and presented more technical information than women) in a group presentation and group interview, or a gender counter-stereotypic intervention version (roles reversed) prior to engaging in their own STEM group project task in a laboratory setting. Analysis of video footage of the groups showed that men spoke longer than women in the control condition, but men and women spoke for equal time in the intervention condition. This result was corroborated by participants’ self-report of their verbal participation in their group.
The statistics are all too familiar, all too depressing, and their consistency creates what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called a mountain of despair. We are referring to statistics repeatedly showing racial/ethnic-minority and low-income students in the United States underperforming in school and earning fewer degrees than others (Oyserman & Lewis, 2017). More troubling, without intervention, these patterns are projected to continue in the future (Beck & Muschkin, 2012; Hedges & Nowell, 1999; Oyserman & Lewis, 2017), leaving members of these groups behind. It is increasingly necessary to attain higher levels of education to live comfortably in modern life (DiPrete & Buchmann, 2006; Levin, Belfield, Muennig, & Rouse, 2007; Vilorio, 2016). Yet students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to attain academic credentials, in part because of their misfortune of being born into families, neighborhoods, and broader social contexts that limit their access to the material and social capital necessary to compete in academic arenas (DavisKean, 2005; Frank, 2017; Oyserman & Lewis, 2017). We find this deeply troubling and thus spend considerable amounts of time studying processes that contribute to this depressing reality and developing interventions to try and, as King (1963) described, “hew out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” This article describes an intervention program we worked on and its effects on students at the University of Michigan.