Locker Room Bell Curve

, Deborah Lambert, Leave a comment

A recent study by a Swarthmore College economist showed that students may perform worse on exams if they “think about their jock identities before they take the test.”

Researcher Thomas Dee asked athletes about their sports activities before they answered a series of Graduate Record exam questions. Results showed that the “pre-test reminders of their athletic identities hurt the athletes’ test performance by up to nine percentage points,” according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Stereotype threat is apparently a hot topic in some circles, which “suggests that anxiety can temporarily impair student’s cognitive functions if they’re reminded (even very subtly) of negative stereotypes about groups they belong to.”

The researcher is all too willing to admit that the results might be skewed by the fact that they don’t exactly “mimic students’ everyday classroom experiences.”

But wait—there’s more.

According to Mr. Dee, “a fairly long history of animus in the college community with respect to the relationship between athletics and the core academic mission of the college suggests that a definite athletic stigma exists in the community.”

Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.