Identifying and Mitigating Practices that Induce Stereotype Threat at Valparaiso University
This paper describes the implementation, assessment, and impact of a professional development project to address stereotype threat at Valparaiso University (VU). Stereotype threat is a psychological phenomenon that has been shown to cause disadvantaged groups to underperform on a wide range of tasks. Additionally, it is recognized as a key contributor to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This project sought to assess the extent of stereotype threat and execute an intervention to reduce stereotype threat on VU’s campus. Supported by a grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), VU hosted lectures and workshops by Dr. Catherine Good, a stereotype threat expert. Several follow-up discussion events were held over the following months to increase the impact of Dr. Good’s visit. Through these activities faculty, staff, and students learned about stereotype threat and its influence on learning. Assessments of each event and the subsequent implications for the mitigation of practices that induce stereotype threat are discussed in this paper. The results provide significant hope for future reduction of stereotype threat at VU. However, the results also highlight a gap between faculty/staff self-perceptions and student experiences with this issue.