The belief that you can achieve your goals will allow you to succeed. The phrase “you’re never too old to learn” probably sounds like an old motivational phrase to you. Would it be accurate to say that your perception of your own intelligence compared to others depends on new study shows that in college biology classes, men perceive themselves as smarter, even when their grades prove they are equally smart. The study, published in Advances in Physiology Education on April 4, shows that gender influences students’ perceptions of their own intelligence, particularly in comparison with Dr. Katelyn Cooper, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student at Arizona State University, worked as an academic advisor and talked to hundreds of students. “I noticed a trend in how students reported how their classes were going,” Cooper said. Women would repeatedly tell me that they were afraid others would believe they were stupid. I never heard this from men in those same biology classes, so I wanted to study it.” The ASU research team interviewed 250 college students in a biology course on their intelligence levels. To be more specific, the students were asked to estimate their own intelligence compared to everyone in the class and to the person they interacted most closely with.
Women underestimated their intelligence far more often than men, finding that they were less inclined to adjust their views accordingly. When comparing a female and a male student with a rating of 3.3, the male student is more likely to say he is smarter than 66 percent of the students in the class, while the female student is more likely to say she is smarter than 54 percent. Additionally, respondents who were asked whether they are smarter than the person with whom they worked most in class also showed the same pattern. The majority of male students say they are smarter than their class partner 3.2 times more often than female students, regardless of whether their class partners are female or male. In a previous study by ASU, male students in biology courses thought that men were smarter than women (when it came to course content), but this is the first study to explore undergraduate students’ perceptions of their own intelligence compared to others. This is a problem, isn’t it? Our courses are transitioning more and more to active learning where students interact more closely with each other, and we should consider how this might influence how students perceive their academic abilities and their self-esteem,” said Sara Brownell, senior author of the study and assistant professor at The reasoning behind this is that when students work together, they will compare themselves more. According to this study, women are more likely than men to believe that they are not as good as other students, which is a concerning outcome of more
Among female students, Brownnell said they may not pursue science because they do not think they are smart enough in a world where perceptions are important. There is some evidence that women may be hesitant to enter science because of these false perceptions of self-intelligence. According to Cooper, there is no easy fix for this problem. Several of the problems women face in university have been engrained in their minds since the beginning of their academic careers. It may be possible to start by structuring group work in a way that ensures everybody is heard. One of our previous studies showed that just telling students that it is important to include everyone could be enough to motivate them to engage with group work in a more equitable way.”