Friday, August 16, 2013

Reducing the Gender Achievement Gap in Introductory College Physics

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent post “Reducing the Gender Achievement Gap in Introductory College Physics” [Hake (2013)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Jane Jackson of the PhysLrnR list has called attention to the Science article “Reducing the Gender Achievement Gap in College Science: A Classroom Study of Values Affirmation” (Miyake et al., 2010) at The abstract reads, in part: “The current study tested the effectiveness of a psychological intervention, called ‘values affirmation,’ in reducing the gender achievement gap in a college-level introductory physics class. [It] reduced the male-female performance and learning difference substantially and elevated women's modal grades from the C to B range. . . . . A brief psychological intervention may be a promising way to address the gender gap in science performance and learning.” In addition to the elevation of women's modal grades, Miyake et al., showed that the “values affirmation” intervention substantially increased women’s end-of semester scores on the Force Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE).

However, PhysLrnR’s alert Antti Savinainen (2013) pointed to:

a. The fact the results of Miyake et al. (2010) were not fully replicated in a follow-up study “Replicating a Self-Affirmation Intervention to Address Gender Differences: Successes and Challenges” [Kost-Smith et al. (2011)] at They wrote: “. . . . we find similar patterns [to Miyake et al., 2010 for] exams and course grades, but do not observe these patterns [for] the FMCE.”

b. The scholarly review “The gender gap on concept inventories in physics: what is consistent, what is inconsistent, and what factors influence the gap” by Madsen, McKagan, & Sayre (2013) at Their abstract reads in part: “Based on our analysis of 24 published articles comparing the impact of 34 factors that could potentially influence the gender gap, no single factor is sufficient to explain the gap. Several high-profile studies that have claimed to account for or reduce the gender gap have failed to be replicated in subsequent studies, suggesting that isolated claims of explanations of the gender gap should be interpreted with caution. For example, claims that the gender gap could be eliminated through interactive engagement teaching methods or through a ‘values affirmation exercise’ were not supported by subsequent studies. . . . . . . the gender gap is most likely due to the combination of many small factors, rather than due to any one factor that can be easily modified.”

To access the complete 25 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles:
Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs:
Google Scholar:

“A paper that does not have references is like a child without an escort walking at night in a big city it does not know: isolated, lost, anything may happen to it.”
- Bruno Latour (1987).

REFERENCES [URL's shortened by and accessed on 16 August 2013.]
Hake, R.R. 2013. “Reducing the Gender Achievement Gap in Introductory College Physics,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 16 Aug 2013 18:02:49-0400 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being distributed to various discussion lists.

No comments: