Girls, in particular, see the tests as a learning tool 1st grade spelling words list rather than a competition, especially in subjects where boys are traditionally ahead of them.
Presenting the exams as part of the learning process is more effective than confronting students on the test results. As experts believe, taking this into account can help adolescents to reach their full potential.
As part of a project to develop methods for testing students in exact disciplines in which girls are often inferior to boys, researchers from the University of Auvergne (France, Clermont-Ferrand) conducted an interesting experiment.
They divided 192 high school students into three groups. One group was told that at the end of the lesson they would conduct tests “to compare your abilities with those of other students,” and the second group was told that the tests “will help you better understand the lesson.
The third group was told that the students would “be asked a few questions” after the end of the lesson and emphasized that “the results will not be evaluated and will not affect anything.
The course of the experiment was covered by the British Journal of Educational Psychology. The k-5 math best results were shown by pupils and students who were told that they were being tested to “learn the lesson better,” but there were also some nuances.
Thus, in the first group the girls believed that they would be compared with their classmates according to the test results, and as a result they gave 4% fewer correct answers. Boys from the third group, at the same time, showed 10% worse results when they learned about lack of grades.
Dr. Selina Damon, one of the project managers, believes that the results of the experiment can be extrapolated to all subjects where girls, according to the established stereotypes, are expected to have weaker scores than boys.
“The experience proves that girls, on average, perform worse on tasks submitted in the form of competition. Boys have the lowest scores with no score,” she explains.
“What remains is to cope with the main puzzle: creating a learning environment that is equally supportive of both boys and girls. Overall, our project confirms that the introduction of tests as an effective learning tool for both sexes is appropriate.