Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in School Psychology


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Klanderman, John

Committee Member 1

Dihoff, Roberta


Cognition; College students--Psychology; Sex differences (Psychology)


Educational Psychology


This study was undertaken to measure the formal operational thought capacity of the college student and unveil any gender differences regarding this ability. Formal operational thought is important to the success of every student because it implies the ability of humans to reason scientifically and analytically and to think abstractly.

34 male and 40 female college students were selected from an on-campus apartment facility to be part of the study. The sample ranged in age from 17 to 21 and represented class standings from the freshman to senior level. The subjects included 45 Caucasians, 9 Hispanics, 17 African-Americans, and 3 Japanese.

The measure used to assess the level of formal operational functioning of the sample was an analytical section from a practice form of the GRE, or Graduate Record Examination. The test contained 12 questions. The test was administered to the subjects in their own apartments and they were given 30 minutes to complete the assessment.

Hypothesis one, regarding significant gender difference, was analyzed using a two-tailed independent t-test. Hypothesis two, concerning overall formal operational ability of the sample, was subjected to frequency analysis.

Results of a two-tailed independent t-test expressed no significant gender difference between the formal operational ability of college males and the formal operational ability of college females. The null hypothesis of hypothesis one was therefore rejected. More than 50% of the test subjects answered at least eight out of the 12 test questions correctly, results which prevented the rejection of the null hypothesis of hypothesis two.