IEB researcher, Daniel Montolio, and KSNET researcher, Pere Taberner, are the authors of the latest INFO-IEB, “Gender Differences Under Test Pressure and their Impact on Academic Performance: a Quasi-Experimental Design”. In this publication, they summarize the methodology and the results of the IEB Working Paper 2018/21 which analyses the gender differences in academic performance under different levels of pressure when sitting multiple choice tests at the university level.
The study collects data on academic outcomes differentiated both by gender and by the weight of the student tests that need to be completed to assess the final grade of the course. This data is used to observe possible differences in student performance according to their gender as the level of pressure associated with test increases.
Based on the study findings, male students perform better when under greater pressure, but that this gender gap narrows as test pressure decreases, and then reverses in favour of female students.
This gender gap, in several of the scenarios analysed in the work, is not the result of an improvement in the performance of male students as the pressure rises, but by the fall in the performance of female students who tend to omit more questions in tests that carry greater pressure.
Following the results of the study, Montolio and Taberner consider that education systems should instead be designed to evaluate students’ knowledge and skills, and not to reward differences in student test taking strategies.