ALL sources must be within the past 5 years.
Reducing prejudice and stereotyping are common concerns for educators particularly
those developing the instruments used for high-stakes academic competency testing. In this
assignment, you will explore the connection of cognitive psychology to learning and
instruction by studying the mitigation of prejudice and stereotyping in high-stakes
academic competency testing.
Explore how cognitive psychology is used in the development of high-stakes academic
competency tests to mitigate prejudice and stereotyping in the test items. Include the
- A brief review of the theories of cognitive psychology and their applications to learning
- A discussion of how cognitive psychology can mitigate prejudice in the creation of high-
stakes academic competency test items.
- A discussion of how cognitive psychology can mitigate stereotyping in the creation of
high-stakes academic competency test items.
Reducing prejudice and stereotyping
The focus of Cognitive Psychology is majorly on the thoughts, understanding and
knowledge of individuals. This theory emphasizes on how individuals comprehend and perceive
their real world through their mind. In addition, it is also concerned on how such perceptions and
thinking influences their behavior. In the perspective of learning, it involves the changing of
information from a particular environment setting into knowledge that is stored in the
individual’s mind. Learning happens when new knowledge is obtained or the extant knowledge
is transformed through experience. Cognitive theories emphasize on the aspect of thinking
consciously, and represent a positive view of development. Vygotsky and Piaget theories for
instance, emphasizes on the construction of an individual’s mind in understanding. The two
theories underscore the significance of evaluating developmental variations especially with
regard to thoughts of learners (Lahey, 2004).
REDUCING STEREOTYPING AND PREJUDICE 2
In essence, the main view in cognitive information processing is that a learner is much
like a processor of information in the same way a computer is. In the process of learning,
information obtained from the environment is processed and kept in the human mind; it then
comes out in the form of a learned knowledge. According to cognitive psychologists, the
environment is the major factor, which is used to modify human behavior. Most cognitive
theories were derived from Shiffrin and Atkinson (1968) concept which posted that the
information obtained in the human processing system undergoes a sequence of transformation
before being stored in the brain. According to Lahey, (2004), there are three main constituencies
of memory, these includes, short-term memory, sensory memory and long-term memory.
Relations Cognitive Psychology and Creation of Competency of Test Items
Many people have come to believe that learners fail simply because they are not
motivated to succeed. This means that a learner’s failure cannot be related with him or her
getting low grade. Under the current evaluation systems, it is required for learners to pass
standardized tests in order to proceed with two extra years in high school education, college
education and good jobs. Those who fail would not be able access high paying jobs with good
salary. However, some states have abandoned the idea of excluding individuals from all
employments based on their educational performance. This has prompted the government to
direct states in establishing appropriate assessment measures to all learners, and which should
not be employed as an exit or stage exam for these learners (Tan et al, 2009).
There have been arguments that the high-stakes academic competency test items do not
effectively measure the learning expectations for the learners. According to these critics, the high
REDUCING STEREOTYPING AND PREJUDICE 3
stakes tests should be replaced with the continuous evaluation tests such as the conventional
grades. It has also been perceived that the term excellence is better defined as the level which
can be achieved even by the most weak learner (Vander, 2008).
The high stakes tests have ultimately been the cause of too many students dropping out of
school. In addition, many graduates as can be witnessed in recent trends are incompetent in their
work places. The movement of standard has rejected the idea that some learners perform better
that others and few of them succeed and go to the highest levels. The concept of cognitive
psychology relates that all learners learn in processes and that each learner has a different
cognitive level. This means that continuous improvement should be applied to all learners
“clever” or “weak” in order to scrap the gap between and among social groups. Moreover, the
opportunities accorded to high performing learners should also be opened to the different
learners in order to create social justice (Tan et al, 2009).
Relation of Cognitive Psychology and Stereotyping in High Stakes Test Items
Individuals who may be negatively stereotyped in specific areas such as the performance
of women in science and mathematic subjects may be in danger of stereotyping. This may be a
concern that they may be viewed through the stereotyped or negative lens (Aronson & Steele,
2008). Research has indicated that the high stakes test performance by groups which are
stereotyped such as Latinos, black Americans and ladies decreases when it is emphasized to the
particular group that a) the test is expected to measure one’s intelligence b) the test is of high
stakes and c) the test is an ethnic, gender or race competency measurement. These is mostly
done when the assessors asks individuals to complete a questionnaire which is supposed to
capture their demographic background. Even if people had a belief that they were competent
REDUCING STEREOTYPING AND PREJUDICE 4
enough, the threat of stereotyping may hinder their cognitive memory in the process of
suppressing these negative stereotyping on them. In particular, the threat of stereotyping is more
influential to people who have a desire to performing exceptionally. The performance of in high
stakes academic tests for people that are stereotyped may not portray the true aspect of their
competency in circumstances involving low stakes testing.
REDUCING STEREOTYPING AND PREJUDICE 5
Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Chapter: Human memory: A proposed system and its
control processes. New York: Academic Press. pp. 89–195.
Aronson, J., & Steele, C. M. (2008). Stereotypes and the Fragility of Academic Competence,
Motivation, and Self-Concept Guilford Publications, New York
Lahey, B. B. (2004). Psychology: an introduction. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill.
Tan O. S., Richard D., Parson, S (2009).Educational Psychology. Singapore: Thomson Learning
Vander A (2008). The new proposition of the standards movement. California, Berryessa