Talk by Dr. Dario Cvencek: Singaporean Children’s Math-Gender Stereotype and Math Self-Concepts: Relation to Math Achievement

Talk by Dr. Dario Cvencek: Singaporean Children’s Math-Gender Stereotype and Math Self-Concepts: Relation to Math Achievement

Date & Time

24 October 2012, 00:00


LT 5, NIE2-01-LT5


Learning Sciences Lab (LSL)
Office of Education Research (OER)



Events Details

Abstract/Summary of Program:

Singaporean children excel in math. Little is known about their math
stereotypes and math self-concepts. The current research focused on the relationship between math stereotypes and self-concepts to actual math achievement in a Singaporean sample. In the current study, three associations were examined using both implicit and self-report measures: (a) Gender identity: the association of self with male, (b) Math−gender stereotype: the association of math with male, (c) Math self-concept: the association of self with math. Children also completed a math achievement test.


172 Singaporean elementary-school children (7-11 years-olds) in 1st,
3rd, and 5th elementary school grades were tested on each of the three
constructs. For the implicit measure, we adapted the adult Implicit Association Test (IAT, a standard instrument in social psychology) to children. The IAT is a computerized categorization task that measures strengths of associations among concepts without requiring self-report. An IAT score (D) is calculated from the speed with which children categorize exemplars from four categories using only two response options, each of which is assigned to two of the four categories.

For the explicit (self-report) measure, children were shown two pictures of a child character and responded by reporting: (a) which of the two characters (boy or girl) they believed possessed an attribute (e.g., liking math) to a greater degree, and (b) whether the character possessed the attribute “a little” or “a lot.” As expected, the data showed strong evidence of gender identity: Boys associated me with boy more strongly than did girls on both the implicit and self-report measure. The students also demonstrated

stereotypes about the math ability of girls, despite—indeed in face of—the fact there are no gender differences in math achievement on the standardized math tests. Both boys and girls manifested math–gender stereotypes: On the implicit measure, boys associated math with own gender and girls did not. Similarly, on self-report measure boys were more likely to pick the same gender character as “liking to do math more” than were girls. There was also evidence for gender-linked math self-concepts: On the implicit measure, boys associated me
with math more than did girls, and on the self-report measure boys identified more with a picture of a same gender character who was solving a math problem than did girls.

Most interestingly, we found that students’ math achievement was correlated with their stereotypes and self-concepts, specifically: (a) for girls, math achievement was negatively correlated with implicit math–gender stereotypes (math = boys) and (b) for boys, math achievement was positively correlated with explicit math self-concepts (math = me). Finally, both implicit and explicit data manifest the theoretically expected cognitive balance (Heider, 1946; Greenwald et al., 2002) linking gender identity, math–gender stereotype to math self-concept. The findings are the first to examine the development of math-gender stereotypes and math self-concepts in a high-achieving math culture. The relationship between these findings in Singapore and related findings in the literature among American children will be discussed.

Biography of Dr Dario Cvencek:

Dr. Dario Cvencek is a research scientist at the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from University of Washington and a B.S. from Boise State University. Dr. Cvencek is part of the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center at the University of Washington. This interdisciplinary center brings together learning scientists, educators, cognitive psychologists, and developmental scientists from the UW, Stanford, and SRI. Dr. Cvencek’s
research focuses on the psychology of personality and social development, particularly the developmental origins of social cognition and its links to education. Dr. Cvencek’s research addresses stereotypes, attitudes, intergroup relations, and school readiness from a developmental perspective using implicit measures with children. Dr. Cvencek’s most recent research combines both developmental and social psychology to investigate the role of cultural stereotypes in the development of children’s identification with mathematics