Examining Cultural Stereotypes, Child Development, and Stem Learning: The Science of Learning and its Translation to Education

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The CERI OECD/National Science Foundation International Conference took place in Paris, at the OECD Headquarters on 23-24 January 2012. Here the presentation of Session 2, Formal Learning, Item 2.

The CERI OECD/National Science Foundation International Conference took place in Paris, at the OECD Headquarters on 23-24 January 2012. Here the presentation of Session 2, Formal Learning, Item 2.

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  • 1. Cultural Stereotypes, Child Development, andSTEM Learning: The Science of Learning and its Translation to Education Andrew N. Meltzoff Co-Director LIFE Center University of Washington http://ilabs.washington.edu
  • 2. In the USAthere is intense andincreasing attentionpaid to learning inScience, Technology,Engineering,and Mathematics(STEM). Thisis also a world-wideconcern
  • 3. This national reporthad a large impact onresearch and policyinside the USA andbeyond
  • 4. TheWashingtonState Academy ofSciences issueda informative reporton STEM in 2011,see:www.washacad.org
  • 5. The science of learning is beginning to informeducational theory and practice. Education Nationwas seen by 52M people in September, 2011, see:www.educationnation.com
  • 6. In Seattle, Washington we launched amajor study of cultural stereotypes andhow they influence our children, see:Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald, ChildDevelopment, 2011
  • 7. Math-Gender Stereotypes in Elementary- School Children
  • 8. Background:There is currently an under-representationof women in math-intensive fields in USAQuestion: Innate Aptitude or Cultural Influence? Without denying the influence of neurobiology, weinvestigated the role that stereotypes play in influencing girls’ self-concepts and interest in math
  • 9. There is a stereotype about math and gender in the USA Social psychology studies document that most American adults think: •  Math is a male thing •  Reading is a female thing
  • 10. What’s Known about ChildrenAmerican children reflect stereotype: •  Elementary-school girls rate their own math ability as lower than boys –– even though their actual math performance matches or exceeds boys •  Do not rate themselves lower for reading or spelling
  • 11. Theoretical Issues• USA stereotype of “boys but not girls do math”• How young do children ‘catch’ this cultural stereotype?• Might the stereotype influence self-concepts for math in elementary-school?
  • 12. Conceptual Terms and Framework Male Stereotype MathGender Identity Self-Concept Self
  • 13. When Are Kids Affected?• We developed a new test• Applied it to large sample USA kids• Discovered the timeline
  • 14. Study of Math-Gender Stereotypes Children ~247 participants ~50 children in each grade 1st - 5th Measures• Self-report (explicit measure)• Implicit Association Test (IAT) adapted for children Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald, Child Development, 2011
  • 15. Child Implicit Association Test (IAT) Stereotype Congruent (easy/fast) Item List: Michael story Boy Girl Emily math reading numbers David numbers letters Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald, Child Development, 2011
  • 16. Implicit Measures: Results Gender Math–Gender Math Identity Stereotype Self-Concept Boys Girls 0.50 Me = Boy Math = * Own Gender 0.25 * Me = MathIAT Score (D) * 0.00 –0.25 Me = Reading Math = Opposite Gender –0.50 Me = Girl Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald, Child Development, 2011
  • 17. Developmental Theory Based on Balance Theories (Heider, Greenwald, etc.) • Very young children identify with being of their own gender (gender identity). Pre-school development. • Next children absorb cultural stereotypes such as ‘girls ≠ math.’ Our new research indicates children absorb this stereotype as early as 2nd grade. • Finally, children draw an unconscious inference: ‘I’m a girl, girls ≠ math, therefore I ≠ math. The stereotype is internalized and applied to the self. Our research indicates this occurs by 3rd grade.Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald Cvencek, Greenwald, & Meltzoff, chapterChild Development (2011) in Cognitive Consistency (2011)
  • 18. Cross-Cultural Work onStereotypes and Math Self-Concepts• Singapore interesting case study
  • 19. We are collaborating with the National Institute of Education in Singapore
  • 20. Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Seattle & SingaporeTested ~180 children in Grades 1, 3, and 5• Are stereotypes different?• Are self-concepts different?• Do stereotypes relate to math achievement? Cvencek, Kapur, & Meltzoff, In prep.
  • 21. Preliminary ResultsWe finished cross-cultural data collectionPreliminary look at data suggests that:• Math-gender stereotypes are less pronounced in Singapore• Singaporean children identify with math more than in USA• Individual children’s stereotypes and self-concepts about math predict actual math performance on standardized tests
  • 22. Next Steps for Theory: Basic Science• Explore where stereotypes come from - Parents, peers, school, media & cultural messages• Developmental pathways linking cultural stereotypes, self-concepts, academic performance. Investigate causal mechanisms.• Understand individual differences - Of course, some females excel; role models; cost• Compare implicit and explicit tests• Extend to other social stereotypes (race, rich-poor, etc.)
  • 23. Next Steps Practical Applications: “Translational Science”We developed a new test for pre-school children. Thiswill allow us to study even earleier origins sointerventions can be designed as early as possibleThe Pre-school Implicit Association Test (PSIAT) (Patent pending) Cvencek, Meltzoff, & Greenwald, J. of Exp. Child Psychology (2011)
  • 24. Next Steps Practical Applications: “Translational Science”• Design interventions - Based on our results, educational practices aimed atenhancing girls’ self-concepts for math should occurearly during elementary school - Interventions for other ages and domains (e.g., college students and stereotypes about computer- science see: Cheryan, Kim, & Meltzoff, Computers & Education, 2011