Stereotype Threat and Evaluative Pressure in the Classroom: Impacts of Stereotype Threat and Evaluative Pressure during Cognitively-Taxing Mathematics Instruction
Emily Lyons

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Chicago

Primary Discipline

In the context of an ever-increasing emphasis on school accountability and standardized test performance, students often feel a great deal of pressure at school (Watson, Johanson, & Dankiw, 2014). Coupled with this general evaluative pressure, many students also experience stereotype threat, fear of being judged through the lens of negative stereotypes (Steele & Aronson, 1995). Extensive research demonstrates that stereotype threat and evaluative pressure can harm test performance (Beilock & Carr, 2005; Beilock, 2008; Nguyen & Ryan, 2008). Although students experience stereotype threat and evaluative pressure in everyday learning contexts as well as during testing events (Larnell, Boston, & Bragelman, 2014; Nasir, 2009, 2012), effects on initial learning are less well understood. My dissertation builds upon key understandings of the effects of stereotype threat and evaluative pressure in testing contexts to extend our understanding to encompass how these pressures impact students when experienced during learning opportunities. In a series of three classroom-based experiments, I test how experiencing either or both stereotype threat and evaluative pressure during challenging mathematics instruction impacts middle school student’s learning, interest and motivation. Although pressure during initial learning is understudied, it may have especially far-reaching, even cumulative consequences, as learning is built on a foundation of prior knowledge.
About Emily Lyons
Emily McLaughlin Lyons is a Ph. D. Candidate in Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research is aimed at understanding how classroom environments, individual psychological processes and instruction together impact achievement outcomes in K-12 settings. She conducts classroom-based studies in a wide range of public, private and charter schools through the greater Chicago area. Her dissertation, which was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, examines how experiencing increased pressure during challenging mathematics instruction affects middle school students’ learning, interest and motivation. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Society from Cornell University. Before pursuing graduate study, she taught high school science in Louisiana and New York. As a classroom teacher, she was struck by the extent to which student learning could be impacted by pressure, and this experience formed the basis of her dissertation research.

Pin It on Pinterest