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In the classroom, a professor’s evaluative feedback to students is often phrased in subjective language (e.g. “great job!”) which students interpret into objective measurements (e.g. “I probably got an A on the test”). The shifting standards model (Biernat, 2003; Biernat 2012) suggests translation of feedback in a stereotype-relevant domain is made with reference to the expectations of the stereotyped group. The prevalent stereotype is that women are less adept than men at STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects is seen to greatly contribute to the gender gap in STEM fields—so does it influence gender differences in interpretation of feedback within the classroom? The current study specifically addresses if female students, when interpreting feedback into objective grades, compensate for the professor’s shifted standards. The hypothesis was that women would translate mediocre feedback as the professor implied lower objective grades, compared to men who received the same mediocre feedback; no gender difference was expected for positive feedback. Bard undergraduate students were given a math and science test, after which they were sent feedback that they were told was written by a professor as an evaluation of their performance. They translated this feedback into objective grades. Analyses showed there was a main effect of feedback condition on translation into grades, but no significant main effect of gender or interaction between feedback and gender. Exploratory analyses addressed participants’ major and value of STEM subjects. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
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Rieschl, Siira M., "A Shifting Standards Perspective on the Gender Gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" (2015). Senior Projects Spring 2015. 57.