Investigation of a professor's feedback on student's divergent thinking performance: an electrodermal activity experiment

Elif Elcin Gunay, Danielle S. Dickson, Rafal Jonczyk, Janet Van Hell, Zahed Siddique, Gul E. Okudan Kremer

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Throughout their education, college students receive feedback about their performance from professors, who are experts in their field. The way this feedback is expressed can influence students' future performances. One theory is that feedback from an authority figure invoking negative gender stereotypes, even unintentionally, might negatively affect performance. In this study, we aimed to investigate how an authority figure's feedback affects divergent thinking in male and female industrial engineering students. We targeted industrial engineers because of the relatively high gender balance in their student population. The divergent thinking abilities of the students were measured with a two-phase test consisting of the alternate uses task (AUT) and the utopian situations task (UST), with ideational fluency (number of ideas produced) as the critical output measure. Students were asked to complete both tasks while their electrodermal activity (EDA) was recorded, a biological measure that is thought to reflect engagement. The students' divergent thinking abilities and electrodermal levels were then compared before and after two forms of feedback: positive and negative (stereotype threat). Results showed that the number of ideas generated was significantly decreased after negative feedback. However, no significant change in ideation fluency occurred after the positive feedback delivery. There was no significant task-related EDA change under positive and negative feedback interventions. These results demonstrate that this type of research can contribute critical new information for educators on how to provide more effective feedback regarding student task performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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