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Are educators meeting

the learning needs of boys


in the classroom?

Intro

Discussions surrounding the gender


gap in education have gained
significant attention in recent years.
The term gender gap is a result of
numerous studies conducted that
suggest girls continually lead the way in
academic achievement while boys are lagging behind.
In 2010, the Globe and Mail identified Failing Boys as
one of eight major issues that will become a growing
challenge to Canadians in the coming decade (as cited
in Martino, 2015). Parents, teachers, and casual
observers have puzzled over the many boys who
seem to be lost in another world while sitting in their
classroom desks as if their minds did not come in
from recess when their bodies did. Numerous
explanations exist to explain the reasons for this gap
including boys slower maturing, and a combination of
biological, social, and cognitive differences between
boys and girls (Vercelletto, 2015; Piechura-Couture et
al., 2013). Suggested solutions range from
incorporating an active and interactive curriculum
(Vercelletto, 2015), to setting up single gender
classrooms and schools (Piechura-Couture et al.,
2013). Research such as this suggests that this gap is
not beyond the control of educators, and through
careful instructional design teachers can effectively
reach the learning needs of all their students
regardless of gender.

by
Mandy Kary

view my e-Portfolio

Abstract

1 A questionnaire was given to students in Grade 4, 6, and 8. These questions

allowed boys and girls attitudes towards school (in general), Mathematics,
English Language Arts, their relationship with their teachers, and their views on
post-secondary education to be compared.

The purpose of this research project was to explore the extent to which current
educators are meeting the learning needs of boys. The research involved analyzing
academic achievment data and giving questionnaires and interviews to students and
teachers. The results of the research show that on average, the current education
system is not as effective at meeting the learning needs of boys as it is for girls. It also
showed that there is a need to raise awareness of this concern with teachers. The research
conducted raised many new questions and showed other potential connections between attitude and
academic achievement that would be worthy of future study.

In order to effectively answer the driving


question, three areas were explored:

Method

2 Achievement data was collected by looking


at thirty nine student files and recording
available information of PAT scores in
Grades 3, 6, and 9.

Questionnaire
Results

On Average, boys report


fewer positive attitudes,
with 3 exceptions:

1 Students attitudes
2 achievement data
3 teachers perspectives
3 The teachers of these classes were asked three

questions based around their personal views on


the learning differences between boys and girls
in the classroom. (Only two teachers responded)

PAT
Results

Interview
Results

On average, boys score lower in both Math


and Language Arts in Grades 3, 6, & 9.

Learning Differences: Both surveyed teachers have


observed learning differences between boys and girls.
Academic Achievement: One feels girls perform better
academically, and the other said she could not
conclusively say which gender performed better.
Preparedness: One responded that she feels prepared
to meet boys learning needs, while the other said this
is dependent on the class.

The gap closes in


Grade 9 Math
The gap is widest in
Grade 9 LA

grAde 8 Teacher Connection


attitudes toward College
& Attitudes toward School (boys were either equal or higher)

Teach to ALL
students.
Explore new ways to
meet the learning
needs of both boys
and girls.

discussion

Both academic achievement and positive attitudes are lower on average


Are
for boys. This calls into question the possibility of a connection
teachers meeting the
between attitude and achievement. It is also interesting to note
learning needs of boys in the
that in all cases, whichever gender felt a stronger connection to
classroom? The averages speak for
the teacher also had more positive attitudes towards school.
themselves. Boys generally report fewer
The importance of positive student-teacher relationships
positive attitudes in all areas except towards
cannot be underestimated, regardless of gender. By Grade
college. They also are performing lower
9, there is a gap wider than ever in Language Arts, but
academically on average. Obviously, housed within
boys and girls averages are equal in Math. This indicates
these statistics are individuals. Not all boys
that the gap looks different depending on the subject area
struggle in school, nor do all girls succeed. What is
and the grade. This difference in performance between
evident from this study is that on average, more
LA and Math may be influenced by attitude as overall, girls
boys do struggle within the confines of our
reported more positive attitudes towards LA.
current system and on average educators
The responses received from the teachers show a good
are not meeting the learning needs of
awareness of the learning differences between boys and girls,
boys as effectively as they are
however, it appears that there is the need to better educate
meeting those of girls.
teachers on the fact that boys academic scores are indeed lower
Explore changing views over time (This study
compared only boys and girls in general, but did
not focus on how each genders perspectives
changed depending on age).

Explore the correlation


between the teachers
gender and students
attitudes toward school.

Explore the
connection
between attitude
and academics.

Take a larger
sample and include
multiple classes of
the same grade.

Encourage
positive attitudes.
They affect the
way students
learn!

References

So What
Does This
Mean for
Teachers?

than girls and they perceive school less positively.

Recommendations
for future
research

Never
underestimate
the importance of a
positive
teacher-student
connection.

Look into the correlation


between the students
connection to the teacher
and their achievement.

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