« Most Rural Ed. Programs Are Developed in Urban Schools. These Research Centers Want to Change That | Main | Children May Struggle More With a Noisy Classroom Than Adults »

To Encourage Girls in Science, Talk Action, Not Identity

STEM-science-robots-engineering-group-students_Getty-Blog560x292.jpg

Girls persevere longer and are more engaged in science tasks when they are asked to "do science," rather than "be scientists," finds a new study in the journal Psychological Science.

It's the latest of a slew of experiments identifying small differences in a teacher's language that may improve motivation in science—particularly for students who feel threatened by stereotypes suggesting they are less likely to perform well in the subject.

Across four experiments, researchers Marjorie Rhodes of the Conceptual Development and Social Cognition Lab at New York University introduced students ages 4 to 9 to a game about the scientific method. For some students, Rhodes and her colleagues described the game in terms of action (i.e., "doing science"); for others, they described the game as performing an identity. ("Let's be scientists!")

Girls in the first group continued the game longer on average than the girls asked to be scientists. Boys who were younger than 5 also preferred the action-related language, while older boys prefered the identity-related language. 

The study comes amid a broad push to recruit more girls into science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Prior research suggests that girls' interest and performance in science can be tied to their beliefs about whether STEM fields are appropriate for girls. One recent study found that girls adopt stereotypical beliefs about their suitability for science careers as they progress through school, with more girls at the start of school than in high school depicting women when asked to draw "a scientist." 

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments