NSF grant for study of student underperformance

October 21, 2002

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Oct. 21, 2002 -- Steven Fein, professor of psychology at Williams College, along with Talia Ben-Zeev, former Williams College department colleague and current assistant professor at San Francisco State University, has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $240,455 to support their research concerning the underperformance of various groups of students on important, challenging academic tests such as the SAT.

Their grant proposal, entitled, "Cognitive and physiological effects of stereotypes on problem solving: Causal mechanisms and prescriptive measures," concerns what Fein calls "one of the great tragedies in our educational system: the failure of large groups of students to perform to their potential."

The research to be supported by this grant will focus on the links between social context, physiological arousal, and cognitive appraisals.

The research team will include researchers from the fields of education, neuroscience, health, cognitive psychology, and social psychology.

Fein's other research at Williams includes investigations of stereotypes and prejudice, interpersonal suspicion, social psychological factors relevant to sports, media, politics, and popular culture.

His work has been published in numerous psychology journals, such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. He is the co-author of the book, "Social Psychology" (Houghton Mifflin, 2002) as well as co-editor of several books, including "Motivated Social Perception: The Ontario Symposium" (Erlbaum, 2003).

Fein received his A.B. degree from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and has taught at Williams since 1991, where his courses include "Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination," and "Social Psychology."

Williams College

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