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Inquiring About Examinees' Ethnicity and Sex: Effects on Computerized Placement Tests Performance CPT

Stricker, Lawrence J.; Ward, William C.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Performance Factors, Ethnicity, Sex, Blacks, Racial Bias, Problem Solving, Two Year College Students, Community Colleges, Computerized Placement Tests (CPTs), Verbal Tests


Laboratory experiments by Steele and Aronson (1995) found that African-American subjects' performance on difficult verbal items, described as a verbal problem-solving task, was adversely affected when they were asked about their ethnicity just before working on the items. These results were attributed to stereotype threat: asking about ethnicity primes African-American subjects' concerns about fulfilling the negative ethnic stereotype about their intellectual ability, thereby disrupting test performance. The present field experiment assessed the effects of asking community college students taking the Computerized Placement Tests (CPTs), in an actual operational setting, about their ethnicity and sex. This inquiry had no statistically and practically significant effects on how well examinees did on the tests or how long they worked on the tests.

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