Do (outgroup) teachers always heighten anxiety and threaten stem students’ classroom outcomes?

Karunagharan, Jaya Kumar (2024) Do (outgroup) teachers always heighten anxiety and threaten stem students’ classroom outcomes? PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Malaysia, along with the rest of the world, needs more Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) literate professionals. However, the persistent gender gaps in STEM make it difficult to meet the demand and stand in the way of scientific and economic progress. Although minority group participation in education has improved over the years, generally, fewer ethnic minority and female students tend to pursue STEM-related fields. One prominent explanation is that there aren’t enough ingroup role models in STEM education to boost confidence in pursuing this profession, given the anxiety faced by underrepresented groups due to the stereotype that STEM is not for them. However, despite the positive effects of role models, these effects are disproportionate which suggests that there could be other factors that counter the inoculating effect of role models.

For this PhD thesis, five studies were conducted. Two surveys were conducted to confirm the assumptions regarding the sources of anxiety within the classroom and the effect of anxiety on students’ confidence in their classroom outcomes, as well as to identify meta-stereotypes that students expect their teachers to have of them. Subsequently, three field experiments were used to evidence the impact that exposure to ingroup (versus outgroup) role models could have on stereotyped underrepresented STEM students’ educational outcomes as a function of ingroup spotlighting (being given heightened attention by the increased exposure to exemplary counter-stereotypical ingroup role models) and stereotype-related anxieties.

The surveys were conducted using established tools of self-reported measures that showed anxiety being a reality in the classroom setting especially in relation to outgroup teachers with meta-stereotypes being typically negative and the concerns being more pronounced in the context of the competence related traits especially in relation to the outgroup teacher. The field studies were conducted in actual classroom experiments, using a novel measure of voice jitter as a proxy for anxiety. The hypothesis was that ingroup spotlighting would exacerbate the pressure to likewise excel in STEM. The results corroborated the assumptions that role models could have positive effects on underrepresented students’ academic outcomes but differs from these assumptions when the students suffer from an imposter syndrome and feel “spotlighted” by the counter-stereotypical ingroup role model.

The present findings could challenge the current thinking around the persistent gender and racial gap in STEM and will help to inform a robust/inclusive government policy around STEM education in Malaysia.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Ramos, Hazel Melanie
Mustafa, Michael
Keywords: STEM, anxiety, meta-stereotypes, classroom outcomes, teacher identity, role model, stereotype inoculation, ingroup spotlighting
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 77109
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2024 04:40
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2024 04:40

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