Less interest and effort, more anxiety in group learning: Experimental evidence on the effects of a dominant group leader

[Speaker] Mu, Yan:1
[Co-author] He, Zijing:1, Wang, Cong:1
1:Sun Yat-sen University (China (People's Republic of China))

Group learning is popular in schools for promoting collaboration and motivation. However, the behavior of group leaders could drastically change the nature of the social interaction in groups and hence the outcome of group learning. We manipulated whether a group leader read instructions with dominant or equal languages and examined the group members' learning interest, effort, math anxiety and performance. Teenagers (16-year-olds, N = 160) solved math problems in 4-person groups with balanced genders. One male was chosen as the leader and randomly assigned to dominant/equal conditions. With dominant leaders, male members reported lower interest and higher math anxiety. They also made less number of attempted answers, reflecting a reduced effort. Their performance measured by the percentage of correct answers was the same in dominant/equal conditions. Female members had the same performance as male members, but showed less interest, less effort, and higher anxiety, regardless of the dominant/equal manipulation.
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