Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Psychology and Program Evaluation

Committee Director

Tony Perez

Committee Member

Linda Bol

Committee Member

Abby L. Braitman

Committee Member

DeLeon L. Gray


Although African-American students start STEM majors with higher levels of interest compared to their racial majority peers, they drop out of these majors at higher rates. One often tested explanation for this racial disparity is stereotype threat–the anxiety related to being judged stereotypically or the fear of confirming such stereotypes. Stereotype threat negatively impacts academic outcomes through a variety of psychological mechanisms including declined motivation. Accordingly, in this study, I examined expectancy-value beliefs as motivational mechanisms for the effects of stereotype threat on STEM outcomes. Participants were 362 African-American students in introductory chemistry and biology courses who completed surveys at three time-points within a semester. Surveys included measures of self-reputation and group-reputation stereotype threats, self-efficacy, task values, perceived costs, and intentions to persist in STEM. Students’ final exam grades were also collected as a measure of STEM achievement from their instructors. Across 12 longitudinal mediation models, results suggested that self-reputation threat and group-reputation threat were negatively related to self-efficacy. Self-reputation threat was also negatively related to task values. On the other hand, self-efficacy and task values positively and perceived costs negatively related to STEM achievement and persistence. Lastly, self-efficacy mediated the relations between group-reputation threat and STEM outcomes while task values mediated the relations between self-reputation threat and STEM outcomes. These findings provide empirical evidence for the theorized relations between cultural stereotypes and expectancy-value beliefs and also expand the stereotype threat theory by examining the mechanisms and consequences of two distinct types of stereotype threat. Results of this dissertation further sheds light on the factors that contribute to the racial opportunity gap in STEM.


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