Tag Archives: Center on Education Policy

University of Minnesota study: Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap

30 Dec

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening.
The Jan. 30 report from STEMconnector and My College Options — titled “Where Are the STEM Students?” — underscores the importance of these fields for our nation’s future economic well-being. It also presents a challenge for all of us in education, from kindergarten through college, to increase interest levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the so-called STEM fields — for all types of students.
While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.
How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.
Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions.
But thanks to the rise of cloud computing, information systems and the app economy, 71 percent of the new STEM jobs in 2018 are projected to be in the computing fields. Getting girls interested in these fields at a young age will be critical if we are to meet the coming demand for talented and well-educated computer scientists, computer engineers and game designers.
With this in mind, it’s important to convey to young women computing’s role in serving society. We should show a young woman how a computer science degree could equip her to design a new app to diagnose illness. That may appeal more to her desire to help others than, say, showing her how to write code for yet another online game.
Programs like Project Lead the Way, which introduces middle school and high school students to engineering and science, help students learn more about these fields at an early age. In Missouri, 165 high schools and middle schools are using PLTW’s engineering and biomedical sciences materials to generate more interest in those areas. http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Science Daily reported in Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap:

Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses….
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171228170646.htm

Citation:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
Findings suggest that changing how instructors assess students could help close the achievement gap in introductory STEM courses
Date: December 28, 2017
Source: University of Minnesota
Summary:
ale students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.

Journal Reference:
1. Sehoya Cotner, Cissy J. Ballen. Can mixed assessment methods make biology classes more equitable? PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0189610 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189610

Here is the press release from the University of Minnesota:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
December 27, 2017
Contacts
Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses.
“This is not simply due to a ‘watering down’ of poor performance through the use of easy points,” says Cotner. “Rather, on the exams themselves, women perform on par with men when the stakes are not so high.”
The researchers point to these varied assessments as a potential reason why the active-learning approach, which shifts the focus away from lectures and lecture halls to more collaborative spaces and group-based work, appears to decrease the performance gap between students.
“As people transition to active learning, they tend to incorporate a diversity of low-stakes, formative assessments into their courses,” Cotner says. “We think that it is this use of mixed assessment that advantages students who are otherwise underserved in the large introductory science courses.”
Cotner and Ballen also see their findings as a potential to reframe gaps in student performance.
“Many barriers students face can be mitigated by instructional choices,” says Cotner. “We conclude by challenging the student deficit model, and suggest a course deficit model as explanatory of these performance gaps, whereby the microclimate of the classroom can either raise or lower barriers to success for underrepresented groups in STEM.”

The University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences seeks to improve human welfare and global conditions by advancing knowledge of the mechanisms of life and preparing students to create the biology of tomorrow. Learn more at cbs.umn.edu.

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein. https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/31/study-elementary-school-teachers-have-an-impact-on-girls-math-learning/

Related:

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning? https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

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Michigan State University study: Young children can understand large numbers

21 Dec

Mary Niederberger of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes in the article, Formula written for math success:

Mastery of fractions and early division is a predictor of students’ later success with algebra and other higher-level mathematics, based on a study done by a team of researchers led by a Carnegie Mellon University professor.
That means more effective teaching of the concepts is needed to improve math scores among U.S. high school students, which have remained stagnant for more than 30 years….
The study said a likely reason for U.S. students’ weakness in fractions and division could be linked to their teachers’ “lack of a firm conceptual understanding” of the concepts, citing several other studies in which many American teachers were unable to explain the reasons behind mathematical solutions, while most teachers in Japan and China were able to offer two or three explanations. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/formula-written-for-math-success-640962/#ixzz1ym9qos5j

Citation:

Early Predictors of High School Mathematics Achievement
1. Robert S. Siegler1,
2. Greg J. Duncan2,
3. Pamela E. Davis-Kean3,4,
4. Kathryn Duckworth5,
5. Amy Claessens6,
6. Mimi Engel7,
7. Maria Ines Susperreguy3,4 and
8. Meichu Chen4Abstract
Identifying the types of mathematics content knowledge that are most predictive of students’ long-term learning is essential for improving both theories of mathematical development and mathematics education. To identify these types of knowledge, we examined long-term predictors of high school students’ knowledge of algebra and overall mathematics achievement. Analyses of large, nationally representative, longitudinal data sets from the United States and the United Kingdom revealed that elementary school students’ knowledge of fractions and of division uniquely predicts those students’ knowledge of algebra and overall mathematics achievement in high school, 5 or 6 years later, even after statistically controlling for other types of mathematical knowledge, general intellectual ability, working memory, and family income and education. Implications of these findings for understanding and improving mathematics learning are discussed.
1.Published online before print June 14, 2012, doi: 10.1177/0956797612440101 Psychological Science June 14, 2012 0956797612440101

Math is important for a number of reasons.

Michigan State University’s Office of Supportive Services succinctly states why math is important:
Why is math important?

All four year Universities have a math requirement
Math improves your skills:
◦Critical Thinking Skills
◦Deductive Logic and Reasoning Skills
◦Problem Solving Skills
A good knowledge of math and statistics can expand your career options
Physical Sciences – Chemistry, Engineering, Physics
Life and Health Sciences – Biology, Psychology, Pharmacy, Nursing, Optometry
Social Sciences – Anthropology, Communications, Economics, Linquistics, Education, Geography
Technical Sciences – Computer Science, Networking, Software Development
Business and Commerce
Actuarial Sciences
Medicine
http://oss.msu.edu/academic-assistance/why-is-math-important

Young children have the ability to grasp large numbers.

Science Daily reported in the article, Kids Grasp Large Numbers Remarkably Young:

Children as young as 3 understand multi-digit numbers more than previously believed and may be ready for more direct math instruction when they enter school, according to research led by a Michigan State University education scholar.
The study, online in the journal Child Development and funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, has implications for U.S. students who continue losing ground internationally in mathematics performance.
“Contrary to the view that young children do not understand place value and multi-digit numbers, we found that they actually know quite a lot about it,” said Kelly Mix, MSU professor of educational psychology and co-author of the study. “They are more ready than we think when they enter kindergarten.”
Understanding place value is the gateway to higher math skills such as addition with carrying, and there is a strong tie between place value skills in early elementary grades and problem-solving ability later on.
“In short, children who fail to master place value face chronic low achievement in mathematics,” the study states.
In several experiments, Mix and Richard Prather and Linda Smith, both from Indiana University, tested children ages 3 to 7 on their ability to identify and compare two- and three-digit numbers.
In one task, for example, children were shown two quantities (such as 128 and 812) and asked to point out which was larger. “There was significant improvement in interpreting place value from age 3 to 7,” Mix said, “but it was remarkable that even the youngest children showed at least some understanding of multi-digit numbers.”
Mix said the surprising findings are likely due to the fact that children in today’s society are bombarded with multi-digit numbers — from phone numbers to street addresses to price tags.
Interestingly, children may be developing partial knowledge of the place value system at least partly from language, she explained. Children often hear multi-digit numbers named while also seeing them in print, such as when parents comment on a calendar, ask their child to push the elevator buttons or look for a room number in an office building.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218112914.htm#.UrVMao_ZKxU.email

Citation:

Journal Reference:
1.Kelly S. Mix, Richard W. Prather, Linda B. Smith, Jerri DaSha Stockton. Young Children’s Interpretation of Multidigit Number Names: From Emerging Competence to Mastery. Child Development, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12197
Michigan State University (2013, December 18). Kids grasp large numbers remarkably young. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2013,

Jonathan Cohn reported about an unprecedented experiment which occurred in Romanian orphanages in the New Republic article, The Two Year Window. There are very few experiments involving humans because of ethical considerations.

Drury, Nelson, and their collaborators are still learning about the orphans. But one upshot of their work is already clear. Childhood adversity can damage the brain as surely as inhaling toxic substances or absorbing a blow to the head can. And after the age of two, much of that damage can be difficult to repair, even for children who go on to receive the nurturing they were denied in their early years. This is a revelation with profound implication—and not just for the Romanian orphans.
APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILLION American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers get care from somebody other than a relative, whether through organized day care centers or more informal arrangements, according to the Census Bureau. And much of that care is not very good. One widely cited study of child care in four states, by researchers in Colorado, found that only 8 percent of infant care centers were of “good” or “excellent” quality, while 40 percent were “poor.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that three in four infant caregivers provide only minimal cognitive and language stimulation—and that more than half of young children in non-maternal care receive “only some” or “hardly any” positive caregiving. http://www.tnr.com/article/economy/magazine/97268/the-two-year-window?page=0,0&passthru=YzBlNDJmMmRkZTliNDgwZDY4MDhhYmIwMjYyYzhlMjg

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

Related:

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

Girls and math phobia https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

Reducing gender differences in STEM education

21 Apr

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening.

The Jan. 30 report from STEMconnector and My College Options — titled “Where Are the STEM Students?” — underscores the importance of these fields for our nation’s future economic well-being. It also presents a challenge for all of us in education, from kindergarten through college, to increase interest levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the so-called STEM fields — for all types of students.

While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.

How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.

Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions.

But thanks to the rise of cloud computing, information systems and the app economy, 71 percent of the new STEM jobs in 2018 are projected to be in the computing fields. Getting girls interested in these fields at a young age will be critical if we are to meet the coming demand for talented and well-educated computer scientists, computer engineers and game designers.

With this in mind, it’s important to convey to young women computing’s role in serving society. We should show a young woman how a computer science degree could equip her to design a new app to diagnose illness. That may appeal more to her desire to help others than, say, showing her how to write code for yet another online game.

Programs like Project Lead the Way, which introduces middle school and high school students to engineering and science, help students learn more about these fields at an early age. In Missouri, 165 high schools and middle schools are using PLTW’s engineering and biomedical sciences materials to generate more interest in those areas. http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Jonathan Olsen and Sarah Gross, teachers at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey guest post in the Scientific American article, To Attract More Girls to STEM, Bring More Storytelling to Science:

Perhaps girls with high verbal scores choose careers other than STEM because their passion hasn’t been kindled in those classes. We know it is not the fault of their teachers but a problem of process.  For many schools, arts and sciences are rarely ever integrated.  Teachers are kept apart with little time to collaborate.

If integration does happen, it is usually the humanities teacher looking to include aspects of STEM in their courses.  The recent adoption of the Common Core Standards by forty-five states calls for more integration between subjects.  However, ask most humanities teachers and they will tell you that they are being told to integrate STEM content into their classes, removing literature for nonfiction, rather than being given the opportunity to collaborate with their STEM counterparts.  Integration is wonderfully effective and certainly the future of education but it is a two-way street.  We think schools should use reciprocal integration between the arts and sciences to capture the imagination of these top female students.

How many engineering teachers include a fiction book like Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano in their syllabi?  Do many math teachers analyze the intricacies of M. C. Escher’s artwork with their students or read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo? How many science teachers read aloud the poetic observations of Dr. David George Haskell?  Do many biology teachers share the story of the HeLa cells?  We think ideas like these should be a part of all STEM curricula.  And experts agree. The NextGeneration Science Standards, released for public discussion last week, ask teachers to show students how insights from many disciplines fit together into a coherent picture of the world.  And we believe that incorporating more storytelling into science can help do this.

Research has shown that storytelling activates the brain beyond mere word recognition.  In 2006, researchers in Spain discovered that stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life. Last year, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that similes and metaphors can activate sensory portions of the brain, and the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France discovered that action words can stimulate the motor cortex.  So if, as the recent study in Psychological Science shows, female students with high ability in both math and verbal areas tend to steer away from STEM careers, maybe it’s time to bring more of those verbal skills into the STEM classes for the benefit of these students. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/budding-scientist/2013/04/16/to-attract-more-girls-to-stem-bring-storytelling-to-science/?WT.mc_id=SA_emailfriend

Here is the press release from the University of Pittsburgh:

March 19, 2013

Women With Both High Math and Verbal Ability Appear Less Likely to Choose Science Careers Because Their Dual Skills Confer More Career Options

Pitt-Michigan study finds that more women than men have combination of high math and high verbal skills, recommends new focus on tapping potential of women with that combination for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

Study also finds that women with high math skills and only moderate verbal ability are the ones who appear more likely to choose STEM careers

PITTSBURGH—There has been ongoing public discussion about the need to educate and recruit more young Americans for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Now a just-published study by the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan offers one potential solution to this perennial problem: more concentrated efforts to encourage women who already possess the necessary skills. 

It turns out that there is a pre-existing pool of women with both high math and high verbal ability; it’s just that they seem to be more likely to choose careers outside of science because their combination of skills provides them with more career options, according to the Pitt study, published March 19 in Psychological Science. 

Principal Investigator and Pitt Assistant Professor of Psychology in Education Ming-Te Wang and collaborators at the University of Michigan found that the mean SAT math score of a group of men and women with the combination of high math and high verbal scores was 720, while the mean SAT verbal score was 696, both out of a possible 800. This group of math and verbal high achievers included a significantly higher proportion of women (63 percent) than men (37 percent).

Additionally, the researchers found that women in the group of men and women with high math scores and only moderate verbal scores were the ones more likely to choose STEM careers. The mean math SAT score for this group was 721, while the mean verbal SAT score was 655. 

Our study suggests that it’s not lack of ability or difference in ability that orients females to pursue non-STEM careers but the fact that they can consider a wider range of occupations because of their combination of excellent math and verbal skills,” said Wang. “This highlights the need for educators and policy makers to shift the focus away from trying to strengthen girls’ STEM-related abilities and instead tap the potential of these girls who are highly skilled in both the math and verbal domains to go into STEM fields.”

Wang and his collaborators examined data on 1,490 college-bound U.S. students, with the information drawn from the University of Michigan’s Longitudinal Study of American Youth. The subjects in the Michigan Longitudinal Study were surveyed by Michigan in two waves: once in the 12th grade (1992) and again at age 33 (2007). The subjects completed telephone interviews, which required them to update their educational and occupational histories from high school through the time of the second-wave survey. Only subjects who participated in both waves were included in Wang’s study; all had received a four-year college degree by the time of the second-wave survey. The participants were 49 percent female and 51 percent male.  

The survey evaluated such factors as participants’ SAT scores, family needs, whether they liked working with people or things, their devotion to a career, and, ultimately, the occupations they chose by age 33. 

The researchers found, from their analysis of the Michigan Longitudinal Study data, that men and women who felt more successful in mathematics than in verbal-related disciplines were more likely to work in STEM fields by the time they had reached the age of 33. Mathematics, said Wang, played a role in these individuals’ identities because they excelled within the discipline, driving them to pursue STEM-related jobs. 

We need to make sure girls and women—especially those with the combination of high math and high verbal skills—are well informed regarding the full diversity of options available in STEM careers,” said Wang. “We want them to see the value in these disciplines so they won’t shy away from science- or math-related careers because of lack of information, misinformation, or stereotypes.”

Wang’s coauthors include the University of Michigan’s Jacquelynne Eccles and Sarah Kenny. 

The paper is titled “Not Lack of Ability but More Choice: Individual and Gender Differences in Choice of Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” 

A PDF of the study is available upon request. 

###

3/19/13/mab/cjhm

In Study: Elementary school teachers have an impact on girls math learning moi wrote:

Moi has written about the importance of motivation in student learning. In Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, moi wrote:

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein.                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/31/study-elementary-school-teachers-have-an-impact-on-girls-math-learning/

Related:

Girls and math phobia                                                                       https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls                                                                                  https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers                                                                 https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning? https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

Where information leads to Hope. ©                  Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                      http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                             http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                                https://drwilda.com/

Study: Elementary school teachers have an impact on girls math learning

31 Jan

Science Daily reported in the March 14, 2011 article, Gender Stereotypes About Math Develop As Early As the Second Grade

Children express the stereotype that mathematics is for boys, not for girls, as early as second grade, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers. And the children applied the stereotype to themselves: boys identified themselves with math whereas girls did not.

The “math is for boys” stereotype has been used as part of the explanation for why so few women pursue science, mathematics and engineering careers. The cultural stereotype may nudge girls to think that “math is not for me,” which can affect what activities they engage in and their career aspirations.

The new study, published in the March/April issue of Child Development, suggests that, for girls, lack of interest in mathematics may come from culturally-communicated messages about math being more appropriate for boys than for girls, the researchers said.

But the stereotype that girls don’t do math was odd to lead author Dario Cvencek, who was born and raised in the former Yugoslavia. “We didn’t have that stereotype where I grew up,” said Cvencek, a postdoctoral fellow at the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “People there thought that math went with girls just as much as it did with boys.”

Cvencek and his co-authors wanted to examine whether American children have adopted the cultural stereotype that math is for boys during elementary-school years, and if so, whether they apply that stereotype to themselves….

Math self-concept — how much youngsters identify themselves with math, as in “math is for me” — has been left out of previous studies of the math-gender stereotype. Even though other studies using self-report measures show that boys and girls alike make the “math is for boys” linkage, the studies don’t distinguish between whether girls simply know about the math-gender stereotype but aren’t fazed by it, or are instead applying it to themselves so that it affects their identity, interests and actions….

In the math-gender stereotype test, for example, children sorted four kinds of words: boy names, girl names, math words and reading words. Children expressing the math-gender stereotype should be faster to sort words when boy names are paired with math words and girl names are paired with reading words. Similarly, they should be slower to respond when math words are paired with girl names and reading words are paired with boy names.

As early as second grade, the children demonstrated the American cultural stereotype for math: boys associated math with their own gender while girls associated math with boys. In the self-concept test, boys identified themselves with math more than girls did.

The researchers also used self-report tests and on all three concepts found similar responses to the Implicit Association Test.

“Our results show that cultural stereotypes about math are absorbed strikingly early in development, prior to ages at which there are gender differences in math achievement,” said co-author Andrew Meltzoff, a UW psychology professor and co-director of the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. Meltzoff holds the Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair at UW.

Parental and educational practices aimed at enhancing girls’ self-concepts for math might be beneficial as early as elementary school, when the youngsters are already beginning to develop ideas about who does math, the researchers said.

Here is the study citation:

Dario Cvencek, Andrew N. Meltzoff, Anthony G. Greenwald. Math-Gender Stereotypes in Elementary School Children. Child Development, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01529.x

John ChildUp has an excellent synopsis of the math study, Math Gender Stereotypes Start As Early As Second Grade at his ChildUp blog:

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, For Girls, Teachers’ Gender Matters, Study Says:

Female elementary school teachers’ comfort with mathematics has an outsize effect on the girls they teach, according to new research.

Girls taught by a female teacher got a learning boost if that teacher had a strong math background, but had consistently lower math performance by the end of the school year if she didn’t, according to a study presented at the American Economic Association’s annual conference here.

By contrast, boys’ math scores were not affected by having a female math teacher, regardless of the teacher’s background in that subject, and there were no differences in math performance among male and female students of male teachers of different math backgrounds. The study adds to growing evidence that children’s gender biases can significantly affect their own ability.

“Children’s perceptions of gender start emerging between the ages of 7 and 12,” said study coauthor I. Serkan Ozbeklik, an assistant economics professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. “Positive or negative, the primary school experiences may shape the academic course of students, leading to long-term consequences like choice of study, choice of major, and occupation.”

Scope of Research

Researchers led by Heather Antecol, an economics professor at Claremont McKenna, analyzed the mathematics performance of more than 1,600 1st through 5th grade students under 94 teachers in 17 high-poverty, high-minority schools in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta region between the 2001-02 and 2002-03 school years.

On average, the teachers had more than six years of experience, but only 11.5 percent of the study’s students had a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in math or a related field like engineering, economics, or accounting. Nearly a third of the teachers were men, far above the national average of only one-tenth of primary school teachers.

Ms. Antecol and her colleagues found that girls taught by a female teacher, as opposed to a male teacher, saw their math test scores drop by 4.7 percenage points by the end of the school year. Moreover, those girls performed on average 1.9 percentage points lower than their male classmates, about 10 percent of a standard deviation. The researchers characterized both effects as strong.

By contrast, boys saw no drop in math performance under the same teachers.

While education-watchers have voiced similar concerns about gender stereotyping of boys’ reading ability, the study found no differences between boys’ and girls’ reading performance based on having a male or female teacher. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/16/17gender.h32.html?tkn=TQQF4ViNm%2F1xKCaioCNY6Pqekt2d6g3I1Bbu&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

Citation:

The Effect of Teacher Gender on Student Achievement in Primary School: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Author Info

  • Antecol, Heather

(hantecol@cmc.edu) (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Eren, Ozkan

(ozkan.eren@unlv.edu) (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

  • Ozbeklik, Serkan

(serkan.ozbeklik@cmc.edu) (Claremont McKenna College)

Registered author(s):

Abstract

This paper attempts to reconcile the contradictory results found in the economics literature and the educational psychology literature with respect to the academic impact of gender dynamics in the classroom. Specifically, using data from a randomized experiment, we look at the effects of having a female teacher on the math test scores of students in primary school. We find that female students who were assigned to a female teacher without a strong math background suffered from lower math test scores at the end of the academic year. This negative effect however not only seems to disappear but it becomes (marginally) positive for female students who were assigned to a female teacher with a strong math background. Finally, we do not find any effect of having a female teacher on male students’ test scores (math or reading) or female students’ reading test scores. Taken together, our results tentatively suggest that the findings in these two streams of the literature are in fact consistent if one takes into account a teacher’s academic background in math.

Download Info

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Moi has written about the importance of motivation in student learning. In Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, moi wrote:

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein.  https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/

Related:

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

Girls and math phobia                                                                    https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers                                               https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning? https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

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Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform

30 May

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein. In Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein report about American Education, moi said:

The Council on Foreign Relations has issued the report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security. The chairs for the report are Joel I. Klein, News Corporation and Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University. Moi opined about the state of education in U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/u-s-education-failure-running-out-of-excuses/ Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids

Jay Mathews of the Washington Post is reporting in the article, U.S. school excuses challenged about a new book by Marc S. Tucker, “Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems.” In his book, Tucker examines some of the excuses which have been used to justify the failure of the American education system.

Citation:

U.S. Education Reform and National Security

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date March 2012

Price $15.00

108 pages
ISBN 978-0-87609-520-1
Task Force Report No. 68

Related:

Joy Resmovits of Huffington Post,Schools Report: Failing To Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/schools-report-condoleezza-rice-joel-klein_n_1365144.html

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/condoleezza-rice-and-joel-klein-report-about-american-education/

CEP’s report is Student Motivation: School Reform’s Missing Ingredient.

Here is the press release:

Student Motivation: School Reform’s Missing Ingredient

CEP Report Summarizes Research on Understanding, Spurring Motivation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 22, 2012 – A series of papers by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) underscores the need for teachers, schools, parents and communities to pay more attention to the role of student motivation in school reform. While there is no single strategy that works to motivate all students, or even the same student in all contexts, the many different sources reviewed by CEP suggest various approaches that can help improve student motivation, the report finds.

For example, programs that tailor support to individual students who are at risk of losing motivation, that foster “college-going” cultures in middle and high schools, or that partner wit low-income parents to create more stimulating home learning environments can increase motivation, the report notes, but only if they incorporate factors that research has shown to be effective.

The CEP report, Student Motivation—An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, pulls together findings about student motivation from decades of major research conducted by scholars, organizations, and practitioners. The six accompanying background papers examine a range of themes and approaches, from the motivational power of video games and social media to the promise and pitfalls of paying students for good grades. Each paper covers one of these six broad topics:

What Is Motivation and Why Does It Matter?

Can Money and Other Rewards Motivate Students?

Can Goals Motivate Students?

What Roles Do Parents, Family Background, and Culture Play in Student Motivation?

What Can Schools Do To Better Motivate Students?

What Nontraditional Approaches to Learning Can Motivate Unenthusiastic Students?

Student motivation isn’t a fixed quality but can be influenced in positive or negative ways by students’ experiences and by important people in their lives,” said Alexandra Usher, CEP senior research assistant and lead author of the summary report and background papers. “How teachers teach, how schools are organized, and other key elements of school reform can be designed in ways that may either encourage or discourage motivation.” The summary report and accompanying papers highlight actions that teachers, school leaders,

parents, and communities can take to foster student motivation. The following are just a few of the many ideas included in the report:

Programs that reward academic accomplishments are most effective when they reward students for mastering certain skills or increasing their understanding rather than rewarding them for reaching a performance target or outperforming others.

Tests are more motivating when students have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through low-stakes tests, performance tasks, or frequent assessments that gradually increase in difficulty before they take a high-stakes test.

Professional development can help teachers encourage student motivation by sharing ideas for increasing student autonomy, emphasizing mastery over performance, and creating classroom environments where students can take risks without fear of failure

Parents can foster their children’s motivation by emphasizing effort over ability and praising children when they’ve mastered new skills or knowledge instead of praising their innate intelligence. Many aspects of motivation are not fully understood, the report and background papers caution, and most programs or studies that have shown some positive results have been small or geographically concentrated. “Because much about motivation is not known, this series of papers should be viewed as a springboard for discussion by policymakers, educators, and parents rather than a conclusive research review,” said Nancy Kober, CEP consultant and coauthor of the summary report. “This series can also give an important context to media stories about student achievement, school improvement, or other key education reform issues.”

The summary paper, six background reports, and an appendix table outlining the major theories of motivation are available for free at http://www.cep-dc.org. For further information, contact Ali Diallo at 301-656-0348 or ali@thehatchergroup.com.

####

Based in Washington, D.C. at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and

Human Development, and founded in January 1995 by Jack Jennings, the Center on Education Policy is

a national, independent advocate for public education and for more effective public schools. The Center

works to help Americans better understand the role of public education in a democracy and the need to

improve the academic quality of public schools. The Center does not represent any special interests.

Download files:

Summary Paper – Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform (PDF format, 598 KB) *
Background paper 1 – What is motivation and why does it matter? (PDF format, 155 KB) *
Background paper 2 – Can money or other rewards motivate students? (PDF format, 188 KB) *
Background paper 3 – Can goals motivate students? (PDF format, 247 KB) *
Background paper 4 – What roles do parent involvement, family background, and culture play in studen (PDF format, 172 KB) *
Background paper 5 – What can schools do to motivate students? (PDF format, 237 KB) *
Background paper 6 – What nontraditional approaches can motivate unenthusiastic students? (PDF format, 244 KB) *
Appendix – Theories of motivation (PDF format, 69.4 KB) *
Press Release (PDF format, 41.3 KB) *

The report discusses the role of parents.

In Paul E. Peterson will piss you off, you might want to listen, moi said:

Moi has been saying for decades that the optimum situation for raising children is a two-parent family for a variety of reasons. This two-parent family is an economic unit with the prospect of two incomes and a division of labor for the chores necessary to maintain the family structure. Parents also need a degree of maturity to raise children, after all, you and your child should not be raising each other. Moi said this in Hard truths: The failure of the family:

This is a problem which never should have been swept under the carpet and if the chattering classes, politicians, and elite can’t see the magnitude of this problem, they are not just brain dead, they are flat-liners. There must be a new women’s movement, this time it doesn’t involve the “me firstphilosophy of the social “progressives” or the elite who in order to validate their own particular life choices espouse philosophies that are dangerous or even poisonous to those who have fewer economic resources. This movement must urge women of color to be responsible for their reproductive choices. They cannot have children without having the resources both financial and having a committed partner. For all the talk of genocide involving the response and aftermath of Katrina, the real genocide is self-inflicted. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/hard-truths-the-failure-of-the-family/ It is interesting that the ruling elites do not want to touch the issue of unwed births with a ten thousand foot pole. After all, that would violate some one’s right to _____. Let moi fill in the blank, the right to be stupid, probably live in poverty, and not be able to give your child the advantages that a more prepared parent can give a child because to tell you to your face that you are an idiot for not using birth control is not P.C.

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/paul-e-peterson-will-piss-you-off-you-might-want-to-listen/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©