Date of Conferral


Date of Award

February 2024






Peggy Gallaher


Despite years of progress, there remains an academic achievement gap among minority and non-minority students in all levels of education. A possible reason for the persistent achievement gap is stereotype threat, which is a situational predicament that prompts individuals to perform in ways that mirror the stereotypes associated with their social groups. Self-affirmation interventions are often used to disrupt the effects of stereotype threat, as students are taught how to focus on their strengths and values to help improve their self-concepts. However, spontaneous self-affirmation techniques may be more impactful because students are able to automatically self-affirm in any psychologically threatening situation. Although stereotype threat and self-affirmation have been examined in in-person classrooms, few studies have examined the concepts in online learning contexts. This quantitative study, with a theoretical foundation rooted in stereotype threat theory, self-affirmation theory, and social presence theory, examined how spontaneous self-affirmation and context (synchronous and asynchronous online learning formats) moderated the relationship between stereotype threat and online academic performance. The ethnic stigma consciousness subscale from the Social Identities and Attitudes Scale, the Spontaneous Self-Affirmation Measure, and the background section of the College Student Experience Questionnaire were used to collect the data. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to test the moderation effects. Results from the study indicated that spontaneous self-affirmation and context do not moderate the relationship between stereotype threat and online academic performance. Nonetheless, these findings could impact positive social change by stimulating additional relevant research in the future.

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Psychology Commons