Assessing does not mean threatening: The purpose of assessment as a key determinant of girls' and boys' performance in a science class
Article first published online: 1 MAR 2013
© 2013 The British Psychological Society
British Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume 84, Issue 1, pages 125–136, March 2014
How to Cite
Souchal, C., Toczek, M.-C., Darnon, C., Smeding, A., Butera, F. and Martinot, D. (2014), Assessing does not mean threatening: The purpose of assessment as a key determinant of girls' and boys' performance in a science class. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 84: 125–136. doi: 10.1111/bjep.12012
- Issue published online: 19 FEB 2014
- Article first published online: 1 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 9 SEP 2012
- French Agence Nationale de la Recherche
- Région Auvergne
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.
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.
Participants were 120 boys and 72 girls (all high-school students).
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.
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.
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.