Inquiry Primed: An Intervention to Mitigate the Effects of Stereotype Threat in Science

This project investigates stereotype threat at the classroom level and in the context of inquiry-based instruction, in order to develop strategies and a related professional development course, using the principles of Universal Design for Learning, to help teachers learn how to mitigate stereotype threat.

Full Description: 

Inquiry Primed: An Intervention to Mitigate the Effects of Stereotype Threat is an Exploratory Project in the Teacher Strand of DRK-12 that investigates stereotype threat at the classroom level and in the context of inquiry-based instruction, in order to develop strategies and a related professional development course, using the principles of Universal Design for Learning, to help teachers learn how to mitigate stereotype threat.

The project includes three major activities:

1) An experimental study testing the hypothesis that the influences of stereotype threat on individual students affects instructional processes for the class as a whole: Research participants include three teachers from 3 different school districts in Massachusetts, each with four 8th grade science classes, for a total sample of 12 science classes and approximately 300 students. The two treatment conditions (stereotype threat induced vs. not induced) are applied blindly to three classroom groups over a series of six lessons. The project uses existing surveys for gathering data, including "Communicative Interactions", RTOP subscales, subscales of the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES), and a brief student questionnaire measuring domain salience (e.g., self ranking of degree of participation in class). The analysis is conducted using Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression, with predictions of classroom instructional processes based on treatment condition, percentage of students in stereotyped group, and domain salience.

2) Collaboration with teachers as co-researchers to translate research findings into classroom practices and a prototype online professional development course: Three middle school teachers who participated in Study 1 serve as co-researchers, using the Universal Design for Learning model. The product is a prototype, online professional development modules that include self-paced presentations, small group facilitated discussions, asynchronous discussions, and live webcasts with experts, all focused on how teachers can implement strategies to mitigate stereotype threat in their practice. The design elements will be assessed in terms of clarity, accessibility, use, value, and promise.

3) Pilot testing of three professional development modules: The professional development component (via communities of practice) supports classroom teachers as they incorporate these strategies into their daily activities. The three teachers involved in the original study and design of modules participate in a six-week pilot study of the online professional development course, anticipated to consist of three modules, with teachers participating 3-4 hours per week. The course is evaluated through observations of professional development interactions (synchronous and asynchronous), interviews, implementation strategies, Moodle Electronic Usage Logs, online discussions, and a questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and regression analysis are used to seek predictors of use and contributions by teacher characteristics.

The project contributes critical knowledge about stereotype threat, a construct shown to contribute to disparities in achievement in STEM education. The outcomes of the project will include research findings that are to be submitted to science education research journals for publication; a prototype, online teacher professional development course on mitigating stereotype threat in STEM education classrooms; and dissemination of the course to teachers who are part of the CAST and Minority Student Achievement Networks.