Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Ann C. Kruger

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Ellis

Third Advisor

Dr. Daphne Greenberg

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert Hendrick

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Brian Williams


Collegiate athletes must contend with negative stereotypes during their academic career (Comeaux, 2012). Such stereotypes depict student-athletes as unintelligent (Yopyk & Prentice, 2005) and overlook the benefits and variability of the collegiate athletic experience. Student-athletes are multifaceted and more than their sport. Unfair depictions can influence student-athletes’ behavior, especially in the classroom. Research shows that student-athletes’ academic performance is affected by stereotype threat (Riciputi & Erdal, 2017); which is the apprehension of confirming a negative stereotype about one’s social group (Steele & Aronson, 1995). Currently, there is no published evidence-based research on stereotype threat mitigation strategies tailored to student-athletes. Expanding the work of Gresky et al. (2005), this study explored a self-concept map activity, based on the social identity complexity theory, as one potential strategy for collegiate athletes (exploring multiple social identities). Division I student-athletes (N = 70) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: 1) threat-no mitigation, 2) threat-mitigation, and 3) no threat-no mitigation (control). Factorial ANOVA was employed to assess differences in participants’ scores on an SAT-style examination (writing/language and mathematics) across conditions. Academic self-concept, gender identity, and race/ethnicity served as grouping variables and potential moderators. Results showed no significant differences in overall test performance across experimental conditions, or between gender identity (female and male). Results revealed several main effects of academic self-concept and race/ethnicity on components of performance, especially on difficult test items. Specific to the main hypothesis, a marginally significant (p = .052) interaction effect of condition by race/ethnicity was observed on the difficult math items. Post-hoc analyses showed that African American student-athletes had significantly poorer scores in the control condition than Caucasian student-athletes (p = .010), and in the threat condition than did Caucasian (p = .001) and Hispanic (p = .004) student-athletes. There was no difference between these groups in the mitigation condition. African American participants’ performance on difficult math items in the mitigation condition was significantly better than their performance in the threat condition (p = .02). These results suggest that stereotype threat mitigations may work, but strategies should be culturally-specific and tailored to the challenge of the academic tasks.