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science achievement

By vthaish Mar 26, 2014 3426 Words


Differences in Science Achievement Test Scores between Male Single Gender and Mixed Gender Classrooms

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Abstract
It is important to study the differences between male single-gender classroom scores and male mixed-gender classroom scores in a pursuit to evaluate how various existent variables and external factors affect these students in education. In this endeavor, it becomes quite important to assess the position of female students in the education system. A mixed class will incorporate both male and female students. Students’ achievement of test scores is affected by numerous factors which are natural and can be classified into academic and non-academic. It all depends on the setting and environment of the educational scenario. Literature Review

In conducting research on single-gender education, it is important to look at unpublished peer literature as well as scholarly journals. Peer-reviewed journals will form the primary source of information for this study. Chapter 1 will form the introduction and will look into the history of single-sex education and incorporate how the education system has changed. This chapter will define coeducation as a different system and its origin. This chapter will also focus on the legal evolution of the education system regarding the single-sex system as well as coeducation. This chapter will analyze the legal changes effected by governments in particular the Bush administration, for instance, the “No Child Left Behind (NCLB)” Act was formulated. Katherine Bradley, Ph.D. (2009) offers a broad discussion regarding the history of single-sex education as well as the legal implications that the system has faced. Chapter 2 seeks to discuss the various variables involved in determining whether the single-sex education system is effective. These variables range from physical, social, emotional, intellectual to biological factors. Race has been a major aspect affecting the single-sex education as Patterson, M.M (2011) posits while discussing student characteristics associated with girls’ success in a single-sex school. Couture (2011) explores the varying neurological characteristics of boys and girls in a bid to explain why either gender is more likely to excel or under-perform in class. Friend (2006) outlines statistics of the RMLE journal (2006) that display how students performed when grouped as per gender. Datnow (2001) uses these statistics to conclude that single-gender classes provide no positive environment for either gender. Chapter 3 outlines the supporting and opposing research that has been forwarded by researchers regarding single-gender education. In this chapter, we will look at the proponents and opponents of single-gender education. Swenson (2008) explores the implications of students in the same class being friends while Gray (2006) and Shapka (2003) compare collaboration between same and other-gender friends. Pamela R. Koch (2008) and Thompson (2010) both look at the stereotype staged against females in education matters. Bracey (2007) is a strong supporter of single-sex education stating that it maximizes learning while Karpiak (2007) opposes the system stating that it is just a temporary measure that disregards academic and career choices according to specific genders. Baker (2003) and Hazari have opposed single-sex education arguing that there are no achievement or attitude gains and that more research to justify the same needs to be undertaken. Chapter 4 offers the conclusion to this study consolidating the findings of the previous chapters in an effort to understand the difference in science achievement of test scores between male single-gender and male mixed-gender classrooms. Chapter 1: Introduction to Single-Sex Education Evolution

Single-sex education is the education of students in an environment that consists of a single gender, either all-male or all-female environments. It could be that it is a single-sex class or an entirely single-sex school. There has been an emergent interest in single-sex public education which according to various educational theorists is a strategy towards increasing student performance. Different educational frameworks provide physical, social, emotional and intellectual variables that affect the learning process. Single-sex education may offer each sex with optimum environments that enhance gender related learning variables for each specific sex. Single-sex education may structure the reading subject matter or classroom activities either competitively or collaboratively to suit the respective sex. Single-sex education has been investigated as a practical strategy of maximizing student performance, enhancing leadership roles, minimizing sexual harassment and sexual experimentation, boosting career aspirations, reducing sex stereotypes as well as increasing course selection of non-traditional courses for both sexes (Bradley, 2009).

Before 1900, education in America was contained largely within a single-sex framework. Males were offered greater formalized education to prepare them for their expected worldly occupations while females received a much less formalized education that offered the practical skills needed for their anticipated domestic life. Come the early 20th century, the American educational system necessarily evolved into a co-educational system. Around the 1950s and 1960s, males were undoubtedly favored in terms of availability of facilities, programs and extra-curricular activities. Females lacked the same chances as their male counterparts. However, even after coeducation became the norm, some single-sex institutions still operated. The Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel were dedicated exclusively to male education. Females were disallowed regardless of aptitude aspects. The Bush administration in 2001 sought to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and in 2002 the newly reauthorized ESEA attained a new name, “No Child Left Behind (NCLB)” Act. In 2006, further review and reauthorizing led to the modification of “Title IX” making the formation and operation of a single-sex school legal under particular circumstances. A mandate by the NCLB required instructional strategies that are purported to increase student achievement in every population sector within public education to be strictly research-based. The education leader must have the research to make informed decisions in the allocation of funds and selected strategies aimed at increasing student achievement. This ensures that the needs of every student are effectively met. The number of single-sex public schools in the USA went from 2 to 49 between 1995 and 2008 and the number of US public schools offering single sex classes shot up from 12 to 18 between 2002 and 2009. Prejudice and social pressures steer males toward ‘hard sciences’ and females toward ‘nurturing professions’ ignoring the impact of physical social, cultural and financial settings. The argument that males and females have different interests seeks to disallow students from being interested in areas not traditionally associated with members of their sex (Jackson, 2010). Some researchers have identified single-sex education as being vital in elevating academic student achievement and evidence exists that single-sex education might benefit females and minority students. Random assignment has emerged as a controversial issue in educational research. The ethical issue here is that one group of students is disadvantaged by not providing an equivalent program of treatment for all students. If an educational strategy is found to be effective, the window of opportunity for provision of that strategy to the control group has passed by the time research is concluded. This means for example that a treatment offered to half of fifth graders in one year is only found to be superior at the end of the research process thus the control group did not receive such superior treatment. Like guinea pigs in a lab, the control group is just experimented on and left to wander off. If they were to repeat fifth grade just to experience the superior treatment, they would be in a losing position and in so doing they would be even more disadvantaged. The limitation to the study can be found in such aspects that only seek to promote the welfare of a section of students while completely disregarding others. Chapter 2: Variables in the Single-Sex Education System

The purpose of this research becomes mainly investigating the variables involved in single-sex education. These can be divided into academic and non-academic. Past investigated academic outcomes include are increases in test scores of subjects or standardized tests, career goals and enrollment in non-traditional gender classes and careers. Non-academic variables include increasing attendance frequency, self-esteem, development of social and leadership skills, and reductions in indiscipline, dropout rates, premarital sex, sex stereotyping and sexual harassment. A comparison of attendance between three coeducational classes and three single-sex classes for the 2007-2008 school year was conducted. A comparison of attendance between single-sex males and that of co-educational males as well as the same on their female counterparts was conducted. All single-sex students in the study were experiencing their first year of single-sex education. The results yielded by the grouping of students by sex were mixed as regards improvement in math or reading. This researcher found statistical significance for math and reading improvement for single-sex females compared to coeducational females. The findings supported single-se education for females but not for males. There was evidence supporting gender-based groupings as a strategy for boosting attendance frequency. The emergent interest in single-sex schools has focused mainly on students of color, specifically African American and Latino students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Jayaratne, Thomas, and Trautman (2003) found that whereas European girls who took part in an all-girls science enrichment program displayed higher interest in science than girls who had not participated (Patterson, 2011). The Research in Middle Level Education (RMLE) online journal in 2006 whose subjects were same gender students in grade eight classrooms was conducted in a public middle school. The hypotheses for the study were; same-gender grouping of students had a positive effect on classroom climate and that male and female students in same-gender science classes displayed better academic achievement as compared to their peers in mixed-gender classes. The purpose of this research was to examine single-gender grouping for eighth grade science classes as a strategy for improving student science academic achievement and creating a more positive classroom climate. Science teachers at the middle school level are encouraged to increase the use of student active participation. In this research, approximately 250 eighth grade students were enrolled in the middle school. In the spring of 2002, each student was randomly assigned into heterogeneous groups by a computer scheduling program into one class period of eighth grade science. One male and one female teacher taught science during the second period of the school day. Forty-three students were assigned to the two sections of second period science. There were two different science classes. One was composed of twenty males and the other class, twenty-three females. The male teacher taught the male class, and the female teacher taught the female class. The students and their parents consented to participate in the study. The students underwent the same learning activities with observations made on each day for each pairing of classes. In the trimester 1, the mean score for the female same-gender class was 83.90 out of 100 while that of the male same-gender class was 78.43 out of 100. Trimester 2 saw the female same-gender class also lead with a mean of 79.20 out of 100 against the male same-gender class with a mean of 73.77 out of 100. The same trend was exhibited in trimester 3 with the female same-gender class attaining a mean of 78.50 out of 100 against 72.76 out of 100 for the male same-gender class. The mixed gender classes attributed to either male or female dominance performed poorly in comparison to the same-gender classes, for example in trimester 1, the female mixed-gender class attained a mean of 80.73 out of 100 while the male mixed-gender had a mean of 73.32 out of 100 (Friend, 2006). The female same-gender class functioned more informally. The female mixed-gender class was more structured and students received step-by-step guidance. The female teacher felt there was a stronger bond in the female same-gender science class. The same-gender male class had several incidents of peer intimidation as well as inappropriate sexual innuendo in conversation. The same-gender male students seemed to bond over their male dominance with newer students and more introverted students failing to interact with the other boys. Unsurprisingly, some boys demanded more power in the classroom through displaying more socialization power. The male teacher also admitted that he would say some things to the class by virtue of the students being all boys that he would otherwise not say in the presence of girls. This experiment provided no professional development to gender equity in science for the teachers involved in the research. The only variable was the division of male and female students into separate gender classed for the second period. The conclusions of the research pointed out that the structural reform of same-gender grouping did not produce significant differences in science student achievement. The conclusion also posited that same-gender classes did not create a more positive classroom climate for male or female students (Datnow, 2001). Gender bias and early gender socialization are common arguments fronted in explaining many academic and behavioral differences between boys and girls. There are fundamental differences in boys’ and girls’ vision and sense of hearing. Boys’ retinas are wired for tracking movement while girls’ retinas are designed for detail and color variation (Couture, 2011). In addition, boys and girls respond differently to stress levels. With such differences, educational implications for success or failure in the classroom are imminent. Regarding science achievement scores, they can contribute to either the success or failure of both boys and girls. Being a cognitive subject, it requires a great application of senses, and sight and hearing are of paramount importance. Chapter 3: Proponents and Opponents of Single-Sex Education

There has been a heated and continued debate among researchers over whether single-sex education is effective or not. Some are for it citing it is effective while others oppose the same arguing that it does not add any value to education or that it even lowers the value of the education system. The importance of research in setting up single-sex schools or altering school structures to suit certain genders in the U.S. remains a controversial issue. The question arises as to whether or not such alterations should be initiated without justifying and rationalizing policies. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) wrote a letter to the Department of Education asking how a school would ensure equality in education since public schools are not required to submit plans for same-gender schools or classes to the Office of Civil Rights for review before implementation of these structural reforms. The Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, said ‘separate but equal’ is inherently unequal because segregation sets up real opportunities for discrimination and stereotyping whether it is intentional or not.” There is a question of whether how to best pair students to facilitate their performance. It is often asked if it is of any importance when students are friends (Swenson, 2008). Researchers have documented general advantages of collaborating with peers versus working alone for performance on cognitive problem-solving tasks such as scientific reasoning tasks. Collaboration among friends has proved to be more advantageous over time. However, there is always the concern that friendship will interfere with performance. In understanding whether an optimal pairing of peers for classes exists, same-gender friend pairs could be compared to other-gender friend pairs. During adolescence, other-gender friendships become more common yet adolescents are more likely to select same-gender peers as partners for school projects. To explain why this is so, a comparison of collaboration between same and other-gender friends could be employed (Gray, 2006). The increase of same-gender classes can also be explained through this model of research (Shapka, 2003). There is a great stereotype regarding females and whether they can excel in a male-dominated field. Science is a technical subject and majority of the interested parties therein happen to be male. This stereotype is widely believed and often readily corroborated. Neuroscience is applied in female discrimination when it comes to a technical study such as science. Other factors include socialization differences, hemispheric dominance in brain structure, parental encouragement, earlier pubescence for females than males and teacher expectations (Koch, 2008). For girls, teachers show a preference to boys in math and science classes. There is a textbook bias that favors males. There is a lack of female administrators because majority end up in lower-paying career tracks despite their high qualifications exceeding that of boys (Thompson, 2010). Bracey (2007) identifies four philosophical camps of thought as follows: firstly, educators and reformers who believe that coeducation is the best arrangement for all students, secondly that coeducation should remain the norm, but single-sex alternatives should also be allowed to help address special needs, thirdly that poor, minority, and disadvantaged students need single-sex education to help combat negative street messages about learning, and finally that because boys and girls learn so differently, single-sex schools should be the norm so that learning can be maximized (Bracey, 2007). Girls’ loss of interest in mathematics began around the time of high school entry around the time of adolescent gender intensification. In spite the lack of matching differences in biologically-based precursor skills and abilities in young boy and girls, the loss of interest still occurs hence implicating social factors. Single-sex schooling is a temporary way of circumventing stereotype-reinforcing social pressure stemming from peers and teachers. It is done with the intent of watering down the impact of adolescent gender intensification on academic and career choices (Karpiak, 2007). There has been continued female enrollment in mathematics and sciences courses in single-sex programs showcasing higher career aspirations despite the usual stereotype working against female students. The National Science Board (2008) reported that females were most likely to experience a mostly same-sex biology and chemistry class while the same was true for boys and physics classes. The effect of single-sex classrooms on different educational outcomes is still not clear and more research is needed to determine the same. More research in single-sex group work is also needed as to how the experiences in this field influence interest and persistence for specific groups of students (Hazari). Single-sex classes are posed as beneficial in improving females’ view of stereotypically male-dominated areas in a bid to increase females’ persistence and aspirations in those areas. However, most reviews indicate that single-sex classrooms do not necessarily lead to achievement or attitude gains (Baker, 2003). Chapter 4: Conclusion

In conclusion and from the foregoing, it is important to note that science as a technical subject has been more than necessarily imposed on boys other than girls. However, it has been evident from research that girls have been the top performers in the subject. They have exhibited the tendency to go into the corporate world and drop their qualifications opting for a more ‘nurturing’ role in society. The test scores, if anything to go by, clearly indicate that a class of same-sex consisting of males is performing poorly than their female counterparts. The male mixed-gender class performed the poorest going by the RMLE research. The appropriate research to carry out at this point is as to why this happened. It should be put into perspective why males perform poorly in science in comparison to females. It is my assumption that the education system has gotten so used to males naturally going for scientific agendas that nurturing the males’ interest in the same has been thrown out the window. This is why female students seem to be taking advantage of the situation grabbing all the chances they can. This is a positive step for the female students, but a very worrying one for their male counterparts.

References
Baker, D. & Leary, R. (2003). Letting Girls Speak out about Science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Bracey, G. (2007). The Success of Single-Sex Education is still Unproven. Education Digest 72 (6). Bradley, K. (2009). The Impact of Single-Sex Education on the Performance of First and Second Grade Public School Students. Mercer University. Couture, K. H. (2011). The Boy Factor: Can Single-Gender Classes Reduce the Over-Representation of Boys in Special Education? Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 38, 255-263. Datnow, A. H. (2001). Is Single Gender Schooling Viable in the Public Sector? Lessons from California's Pilot Program. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Friend, J. (2006). Research on Same-Gender Grouping in Eighth Grade Science Classrooms. RMLE Online. Gray, C. & Wilson, J. (2006). Teachers’ Experiences of a Single-Sex Initiative in a Co-educational School. Educational Studies Vol. 32, 285-298. Hazari, Z. S. (n.d.). Examining the Relationship between Single-Sex Experiences in High School Science and Science Career Choice. Jackson, J. (2010). "Dangerous Presumptions": How Single-Sex Schooling Reifies False Notions of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. Gender and Education, Vol. 22, 227-238. Karpiak, C. B. (2007). University Students from Single-Sex and Co-educational High Schools: Differences in Majors and Attitudes at a Catholic University. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31. Koch, P. S. (2008). Naughty or Nice?: Equity, Gender and Behavior. Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal, Vol. 11, 410-430. Patterson, M. & Erin, P. (2011). Student Characteristics Associated with Girls' Success in a Single-Sex School. Springer Verlag. Shapka, J. & Keating, D. (2003). Effects of a Girls-Only Curriculum During Adolescence: Performance, Persistence, and Engagement in Mathematics and Science. American Education Research Journal, 929-960. Swenson, L. & Strough, J. (2008, September). Adolescents' Collaboration in the Classroom: Do Peer Relationships or Gender Matter? Wiley Periodicals, Inc., pp. 715-728. Thompson, F. & Austin, W. (2010). The Gender Role Perceptions of Male Students at a Prestigious, Single-Gender, Catholic High School. Education, Vol. 130, 424-446.

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