Is Test Anxiety Keeping Women Out of STEM Fields?
I invite you to review the article about the STEM gap between men and women. Using data from the PISA Test, The Programme for International Student Assessment assessing the knowledge and skills of 15 year old students worldwide, there were no significant differences in test scores between boys and girls. However, women make up 48% of the US workforce but only comprise 24% of workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. At a further review of the data, the authors believe that text anxiety has a large role in this discrepency. "Girls are slightly more likely to have strong motivation calibration than boys, and to think that their work in science class will be useful in the future. But remember that they also have higher levels of test anxiety. The authors think that the anxiety cancels out the motivation, ultimately affecting “the choices they make later in life.”
If test anxiety is a significant cause of women's choices not to continue their education in a STEM field, how do we correct this? What instructional strategies would you suggest to help students overcome their anxiety? And how does the author's use of motivation calibration explain any of these concerns?
Kathy Tracey, Science and PD CoP Moderator.