Tag Archives: Gender Differences

University of Maryland School of Medicine study: Clues to brain differences between males and females

2 Mar

Some in society are pushing the concept of gender-neutral. Alina Tugend wrote Engendering Sons: Is It Doable—or Even Desirable—to Raise Gender-Neutral Children?

Overcoming gender disparities may require us to take a more nuanced approach to problem solving. For example, if we want more girls and women, who are now woefully underrepresented, to take more science, technology, engineering, and math classes, and we agree that it’s not innate ability holding them back, the answer might be to show scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to be attractive and caring rather than nerdy. Or change the physical environment of classrooms and laboratories to make them more appealing to girls.
Then again, does this counter or reinforce gender stereotypes? Good people disagree.
One thing that’s easy to forget, as Janet Hyde points out, is that variations within genders are greater than variations between them. I see the truth of that in my own home. Both my boys are into sports, but one is far more talkative and intellectually curious, while the other ranks higher on intuition and emotional intelligence. If they were a boy and a girl, it would be easy to attribute these differences to gender. As it is, I guess I’ll have to blame—or credit—the vast and ever-shifting mishmash of biology, parenting, peer influence, and culture. http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2014-gender-assumptions/engendering-sons-it-doable-or-even-desirable

One study points to the idea that gender concept starts early.

Science Daily reported in Infants prefer toys typed to their gender:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.
The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.
The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.
To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.
The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).
Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys….
“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9-17months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/16

See Dr. Wilda https://drwilda.com/tag/gender/ , https://drwilda.com/tag/gender-differences/

Science Daily reported in Clues to brain differences between males and females: How male sex steroids play a key role in understanding behavioral development:

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered a mechanism for how androgens — male sex steroids — sculpt brain development. The research, conducted by Margaret M. McCarthy, Ph.D., who Chairs the Department of Pharmacology, could ultimately help researchers understand behavioral development differences between males and females.
The research, published in Neuron, discovered a mechanism for how androgens, male sex steroids, sculpt the brains of male rats to produce behavioral differences, such as more aggression and rougher play behavior. “We already knew that the brains of males and females are different and that testosterone produced during the second trimester in humans and late gestation in rodents contributes to the differences but we did not know how testosterone has these effects” said Dr. McCarthy.
Jonathan Van Ryzin, PhD, a Postdoctoral Fellow, was lead author on this research conducted in Dr. McCarthy’s lab.
A key contributor to the differences in play behavior between males and females is a sex-based difference in the number of newborn cells in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls emotions and social behaviors. The research showed that males have fewer of these newborn cells, because they are actively eliminated by immune cells.
In females, the newborn cells differentiated into a type of glial cell, the most abundant type of cell in the central nervous system. In males however, testosterone increased signaling at receptors in the brain which bind endocannabinoids, causing immune cells to be activated. The endocannabinoids prompted the immune cells to effectively eliminate the newborn cells in males. Females rats in the study were unaffected, suggesting that the activation of the immune cells by the increased endocannabinoids in males was necessary for cell elimination. In this respect, this research shows that cannabis use, which stimulates endocannabinoids in the brain and nervous system, could impact brain development of the fetus and this impact could differ between male and female fetuses.
This study provides a mechanism for sex-based differences in social behaviors and suggests that differences in androgen and endocannabinoid signaling may contribute to individual differences in brain development and thus behavioral differences among people…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190301160901.htm

Citation:

Clues to brain differences between males and females
How male sex steroids play a key role in understanding behavioral development
Date: March 1, 2019
Source: University of Maryland School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a mechanism for how androgens — male sex steroids — sculpt brain development. The research could ultimately help researchers understand behavioral development differences between males and females.
Journal Reference:
Jonathan W. VanRyzin, Ashley E. Marquardt, Kathryn J. Argue, Haley A. Vecchiarelli, Sydney E. Ashton, Sheryl E. Arambula, Matthew N. Hill, Margaret M. McCarthy. Microglial Phagocytosis of Newborn Cells Is Induced by Endocannabinoids and Sculpts Sex Differences in Juvenile Rat Social Play. Neuron, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.02.006

Here is the press release from the University of Maryland School of Medicine:

UMSOM Researchers Discover Clues to Brain Differences Between Males and Females
NewsArchive Pages2019 ArchiveUMSOM Researchers Discover Clues to Brain Differences Between Males and Females
March 01, 2019 | Joanne Morrison
New Study by Dr. Margaret McCarthy’s Lab Shows How Male Sex Steroids Play a Key Role in Understanding Behavioral Development
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered a mechanism for how androgens — male sex steroids — sculpt brain development. The research, conducted by Margaret M. McCarthy, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, could ultimately help researchers understand behavioral development differences between males and females.
The research, published in Neuron, discovered a mechanism for how androgens, male sex steroids, sculpt the brains of male rats to produce behavioral differences, such as more aggression and rougher play behavior. “We already knew that the brains of males and females are different and that testosterone produced during the second trimester in humans and late gestation in rodents contributes to the differences but we did not know how testosterone has these effects,” said Dr. McCarthy.
Jonathan Van Ryzin, PhD, a Postdoctoral Fellow, was lead author on this research conducted in Dr. McCarthy’s lab.
A key contributor to the differences in play behavior between males and females is a sex-based difference in the number of newborn cells in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls emotions and social behaviors. The research showed that males have fewer of these newborn cells, because they are actively eliminated by immune cells.
In females, the newborn cells differentiated into a type of glial cell, the most abundant type of cell in the central nervous system. In males however, testosterone increased signaling at receptors in the brain, which bind endocannabinoids, causing immune cells to be activated. The endocannabinoids prompted the immune cells to effectively eliminate the newborn cells in males. Females rats in the study were unaffected, suggesting that the activation of the immune cells by the increased endocannabinoids in males was necessary for cell elimination. In this respect, this research shows that cannabis use, which stimulates endocannabinoids in the brain and nervous system, could impact brain development of the fetus and this impact could differ between male and female fetuses.
This study provides a mechanism for sex-based differences in social behaviors and suggests that differences in androgen and endocannabinoid signaling may contribute to individual differences in brain development and thus behavioral differences among people.
“These discoveries into brain development are critical as we work to tackle brain disorders as early in life as possible, even in pregnancy,” said UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor.
This research was funded by NIH, Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Alberta Innovates, and BranchOut Neurological Foundation.
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world — with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $530 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu
CONTACT
Office of Public Affairs
655 West Baltimore Street
Bressler Research Building 14-002
Baltimore, Maryland 21201-1559

Contact Media Relations
(410) 706-5260
Joanne Morrison
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
University of Maryland School of Medicine
jmorrison@som.umaryland.edu
Office: (410) 706-2884
Mobile: (202) 841-3369

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 because too many social engineers are advocating that there is no difference between cognitive and behavior of the genders. 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

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University of Buffalo study: Caffeine affects boys and girls differently

22 Jun

Moi wrote about caffeine and children in Energy drinks may pose a danger:
The American Academy of Pediatrics is reported at its site, Healthy Children.Org in the study, Energy Drinks Can Harm Children:

Energy drinks may pose a risk for serious adverse health effects in some children, especially those with diabetes, seizures, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavior disorders.
A new study, “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” in the March issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 14), determined that energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit to children, and both the known and unknown properties of the ingredients, combined with reports of toxicity, may put some children at risk for adverse health events.
Youth account for half of the energy drink market, and according to surveys, 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks. Typically, energy drinks contain high levels of stimulants such as caffeine, taurine, and guarana, and safe consumption levels have not been established for most adolescents. Because energy drinks are frequently marketed to athletes and at-risk young adults, it is important for pediatric health care providers to screen for heavy use both alone and with alcohol, and to educate families and children at-risk for energy drink overdose, which can result in seizures, stroke and even sudden death.

Several deaths have been attributed to energy drinks.

The Washington Post reported in the article Energy drink popularity booms at college, despite health concerns:

A 2008 study of undergraduates at a large public university found that 39 percent of students had consumed at least one energy drink in the past month, with considerably higher rates for males and white students. The study, funded with a National Institute on Drug Abuse grant, noted that energy drink marketing tactics are “similar to those used to sell tobacco and alcohol to youths….”
Red Bull, which hit the country in the late 1990s, is credited with creating this industry using a Thai recipe. Today there are hundreds of energy drinks on the market, ranging from 1.93-ounce 5-Hour Energy shots to 32-ounce cans of Monster. Even Starbucks has gotten into the game, producing sparkling energy drinks and canned espresso beverages.
That proliferation has intensified debate about a long-standing question: Are energy drinks safe?
The focus of that question is often one of the main ingredients: caffeine. Energy drinks contain from 2.5 to 35.7 milligrams of caffeine per ounce; energy shots may have as much as 170 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, according to researchers. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/energy-drink-popularity-booms-at-college-despite-health-concerns/2012/12/18/740e994e-45f8-11e2-8e70-e1993528222d_story.html

As more young people consume energy drinks, more problems are occurring. https://drwilda.com/2012/12/18/energy-drinks-may-pose-a-danger/

Alexandra Sifferlin reported in the Time article, Boys and Girls Are Impacted By Caffeine Differently:

New research shows even low doses of caffeine impact kids, and bodies of boys and girls react differently
Boys and girls’ bodies react differently to caffeine after they hit puberty, new research shows.
It’s established that caffeine consumption can increase blood pressure and lower heart rate in adults, and researchers from University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, have shown in the past that the same side effects happen in kids. This new research, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the different ways caffeine affects males and females starts at puberty, with boys’ hearts more affected than girls’.
The researchers are unsure why exactly there are reaction differences—it could be due to hormones or other physiological factors—but it’s concerning since doses were low, at 1 and 2 mg/kg, and since caffeinated energy drinks are popular among kids and teens….
Currently, the FDA does not require the amount of caffeine in a product to be included on food labels. Since the FDA says caffeine is a natural chemical found in items like tea leaves and coffee beans, it’s regulated as an ingredient not a drug. Energy drinks are not regulated because they are sold as dietary supplements. A 2012 Consumer Reports review of 27 best-selling energy drinks found that 11 do not list caffeine content. Among those that do, the tested amount was on average 20% higher than what was on the label.
The FDA says 400 milligrams a day, about four or five cups of coffee, is generally not considered dangerous for adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption among young kids and adolescents.
The latest study did have weaknesses, since its study group was primarily among white, middle class, and well educated, and they could not completely confirm that control groups were totally abstinent when it came to consuming caffeine. Still, the research is important as medical and governmental groups take a closer look at how the stimulant may be impacting children’s health. http://time.com/2878504/boys-and-girls-are-impacted-by-caffeine-differently/

Citation:

Cardiovascular Responses to Caffeine by Gender and Pubertal Stage
1. Jennifer L. Temple, PhDa,b,
2. Amanda M. Ziegler, MPHa,
3. Adam Graczyk, MSa,
4. Ashley Bendlin, BSa,
5. Teresa Sion, BSa, and
6. Karina Vattana, BSa
+ Author Affiliations
1. aDepartment of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, and
2. bCommunity Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
Abstract
BACKGROUND: Caffeine use is on the rise among children and adolescents. Previous studies from our laboratory reported gender differences in the effects of caffeine in adolescents. The purpose of this study was to test the hypotheses that gender differences in cardiovascular responses to caffeine emerge after puberty and that cardiovascular responses to caffeine differ across the phases of the menstrual cycle.
METHODS: To test these hypotheses, we examined heart rate and blood pressure before and after administration of placebo and 2 doses of caffeine (1 and 2 mg/kg) in prepubertal (8- to 9-year-olds; n = 52) and postpubertal (15- to 17-year-olds; n = 49) boys (n = 54) and girls (n = 47) by using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response design.
RESULTS: There was an interaction between gender and caffeine dose, with boys having a greater response to caffeine than girls. In addition, we found interactions between pubertal phase, gender, and caffeine dose, with gender differences present in postpubertal, but not in prepubertal, participants. Finally, we found differences in responses to caffeine across the menstrual cycle in postpubertal girls, with decreases in heart rate that were greater in the midfollicular phase and blood pressure increases that were greater in the midluteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that gender differences in response to caffeine emerge after puberty. Future research will determine the extent to which these gender differences are mediated by physiological factors, such as steroid hormones, or psychosocial factors, such as more autonomy and control over beverage purchases.

Here is the press release from the University of Buffalo:

Caffeine affects boys and girls differently after puberty, study finds
Jennifer Temple
“In this study, we were looking exclusively into the physical results of caffeine ingestion.”
Jennifer Temple, associate professor of exercise and nutrition science
University at Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Caffeine intake by children and adolescents has been rising for decades, due in large part to the popularity of caffeinated sodas and energy drinks, which now are marketed to children as young as four. Despite this, there is little research on the effects of caffeine on young people.
One researcher who is conducting such investigations is Jennifer Temple, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Her new study finds that after puberty, boys and girls experience different heart rate and blood pressure changes after consuming caffeine. Girls also experience some differences in caffeine effect during their menstrual cycles.
The study, “Cardiovascular Responses to Caffeine by Gender and Pubertal Stage,” will be published online June 16 in the July 2014 edition of the journal Pediatrics.
Past studies, including those by this research team, have shown that caffeine increases blood pressure and decreases heart rate in children, teens and adults, including pre-adolescent boys and girls. The purpose here was to learn whether gender differences in cardiovascular responses to caffeine emerge after puberty and if those responses differ across phases of the menstrual cycle.
Temple says, “We found an interaction between gender and caffeine dose, with boys having a greater response to caffeine than girls, as well as interactions between pubertal phase, gender and caffeine dose, with gender differences present in post-pubertal, but not in pre-pubertal, participants.
“Finally,” she says, “we found differences in responses to caffeine across the menstrual cycle in post-pubertal girls, with decreases in heart rate that were greater in the mid-luteal phase and blood pressure increases that were greater in the mid-follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
“In this study, we were looking exclusively into the physical results of caffeine ingestion,” she says.
Phases of the menstrual cycle, marked by changing levels of hormones, are the follicular phase, which begins on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation, and the luteal phase, which follows ovulation and is marked by significantly higher levels of progesterone than the previous phase.
Future research in this area will determine the extent to which gender differences are mediated by physiological factors such as steroid hormone level or by differences in patterns of caffeine use, caffeine use by peers or more autonomy and control over beverage purchases, Temple says.
This double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
It examined heart rate and blood pressure before and after administration of placebo and two doses of caffeine (1 and 2 mg/kg) in pre-pubertal (8- to 9-year-old; n = 52) and post-pubertal (15- to 17-year-old; n = 49) boys (n = 54) and girls (n = 47).
Co-authors are Amanda M. Ziegler, project coordinator for the Nutrition and Health Research Lab, and graduate student Adam Gracyzk, both in the UB Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions; Ashley Bendlin, undergraduate student in the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Psychology, UB College of Arts and Sciences; Theresa Sion, undergraduate student in family nursing, UB School of Nursing; and Karina Vattana, who recently graduated with a BS in biomedical sciences, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
For an embargoed copy of the study, contact Noreen Steward, nstewart@aap.org, American Academy of Pediatrics Department of Public Affairs. For an interview with the lead author, contact Patricia Donovan, Office of Communications, University at Buffalo, 716-645-4602 or pdonovan@buffalo.edu.
Media Contact Information
Patricia Donovan
Senior Editor, Arts, Humanities, Public Health, Social Sciences
Tel: 716-645-4602
pdonovan@buffalo.edu
– See more at: Caffeine affects boys and girls differently after puberty, study finds – News Center

Because children are still growing and developing, caffeine affects their development.

Diet Health Club has some excellent information in the article, Caffeine and Teenagers:

Café shops have become a common place for teen’s hangout. But they don’t realize that they are just sitting with a cup of fat, sugar and caffeine, unless they choose skim milk instead of cream in their coffee.
Side effects of caffeine on teenagers
1. Caffeine when taken in moderate amounts can increase mental alertness. However when taken in higher doses, it can cause anxiety, headaches, moods, dizziness and may also interfere with normal sleep. Caffeine when taken in very high dose can be very harmful to the body.
2. Caffeine is addictive and if stopped abruptly can cause many withdrawal symptoms like headache, irritability, temporary depression and muscle ache.
3. Regular caffeine consumption can reduce caffeine sensitivity that means the caffeine required is higher to achieve the same effects. Thus more caffeine a teenager consumes the more will be its need to feel the same effects.
4. Caffeine is a diuretic it causes water loss from the body (through urination). Especially in summers caffeine is a very bad choice and it may cause dehydration.
5. Caffeine is not stored in the body and is passed through the urine, but if the person is sensitive to caffeine he/she might feel its effects up to six hours.
6. Caffeine when consumed in large amounts can cause loss of calcium and potassium from the body that can lead to sore muscles and delayed recovery time after any exercise.
7. Some teenagers may be unaware of the fact that caffeine in high amounts can cause nervous disorders and may also aggravate heart problems.
Try to cut down the caffeine in your diet gradually; moderation is the key (amounts less than 100 milligrams). Include healthy options like fresh fruit juices, water, milk, flavored seltzer, decaffeinated soda or tea instead of caffeinated beverages, soft drinks, sodas and other caffeine rich drinks. Make sure to read the nutritional fact labels for caffeine content before consuming the product. http://www.diethealthclub.com/caffeine/caffeine-and-teenagers.html

Children and teens should limit their caffeine intake.

Resources:

Energy Drinks (Audio Description) http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/pages/Energy-Drinks.aspx

Nutrition and Sports http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/pages/Nutrition-and-Sports.aspx

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/

American Psychological Association study: Girls make higher grades than boys

30 Apr

Moi has posted quite a bit about gender differences. In Boys are different from girls despite what the culture is trying to say:
Some in the current culture do not want to recognize that boys have different styles, because to say otherwise is just not politically correct (P.C.). Being P.C., however, is throwing a lot of kids under the bus. The American Psychological Association (APA) released a study which shows that girls have historically achieved at higher levels than boys.

Science Daily reported in the article, Girls make higher grades than boys in all school subjects, analysis finds:

Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis published by the American Psychological Association….
Based on research from 1914 through 2011 that spanned more than 30 countries, the study found the differences in grades between girls and boys were largest for language courses and smallest for math and science. The female advantage in school performance in math and science did not become apparent until junior or middle school, according to the study, published in the APA journal Psychological Bulletin. The degree of gender difference in grades increased from elementary to middle school, but decreased between high school and college.
The researchers examined 369 samples from 308 studies, reflecting grades of 538,710 boys and 595,332 girls. Seventy percent of the samples consisted of students from the United States. Other countries or regions represented by more than one sample included Norway, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Slovakia, United Kingdom Africa and Finland. Countries represented by one sample included Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Mexico, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Slovenia.
All studies included an evaluation of gender differences in teacher-assigned grades or official grade point averages in elementary, junior/middle or high school, or undergraduate and graduate university. Studies that relied on self-report and those about special populations, such as high-risk or mentored students, were excluded. The studies also looked at variables that might affect the students’ grades, such as the country where students attended school, course material, students’ ages at the time the grades were obtained, the study date and racial composition of the samples.
The study reveals that recent claims of a “boy crisis,” with boys lagging behind girls in school achievement, are not accurate because girls’ grades have been consistently higher than boys’ across several decades with no significant changes in recent years, the authors wrote.
“The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” said co-author Susan Voyer, MASc, also of the University of New Brunswick.
As for why girls perform better in school than boys, the authors speculated that social and cultural factors could be among several possible explanations. Parents may assume boys are better at math and science so they might encourage girls to put more effort into their studies, which could lead to the slight advantage girls have in all courses, they wrote. Gender differences in learning styles is another possibility. Previous research has shown girls tend to study in order to understand the materials, whereas boys emphasize performance, which indicates a focus on the final grades. “Mastery of the subject matter generally produces better marks than performance emphasis, so this could account in part for males’ lower marks than females,” the authors wrote.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429104957.htm

Citation:

Girls make higher grades than boys in all school subjects, analy
Date: April 29, 2014
Source: American Psychological Association (APA)
Summary:
Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis. “School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences,” said lead study author.
Journal Reference:
1. Daniel Voyer, Susan D. Voyer. Gender differences in scholastic achievement: A meta-analysis.. Psychological Bulletin, 2014; DOI: 10.1037/a0036620

Here is the press release from the APA:

April 29, 2014
Girls Make Higher Grades than Boys in All School Subjects, Analysis Finds
For math, science, boys lead on achievement tests while girls do better on classroom grades, research reveals
WASHINGTON — Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis published by the American Psychological Association.
“Although gender differences follow essentially stereotypical patterns on achievement tests in which boys typically score higher on math and science, females have the advantage on school grades regardless of the material,” said lead study author Daniel Voyer, PhD, of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. “School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences.”
Based on research from 1914 through 2011 that spanned more than 30 countries, the study found the differences in grades between girls and boys were largest for language courses and smallest for math and science. The female advantage in school performance in math and science did not become apparent until junior or middle school, according to the study, published in the APA journal Psychological Bulletin®. The degree of gender difference in grades increased from elementary to middle school, but decreased between high school and college.
The researchers examined 369 samples from 308 studies, reflecting grades of 538,710 boys and 595,332 girls. Seventy percent of the samples consisted of students from the United States. Other countries or regions represented by more than one sample included Norway, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Africa and Finland. Countries represented by one sample included Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Mexico, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Slovenia.
Related
• Gender Differences in Scholastic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis (PDF, 251KB) http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bul-a0036620.pdf
All studies included an evaluation of gender differences in teacher-assigned grades or official grade point averages in elementary, junior/middle or high school, or undergraduate and graduate university. Studies that relied on self-report and those about special populations, such as high-risk or mentored students, were excluded. The studies also looked at variables that might affect the students’ grades, such as the country where students attended school, course material, students’ ages at the time the grades were obtained, the study date and racial composition of the samples.
The study reveals that recent claims of a “boy crisis,” with boys lagging behind girls in school achievement, are not accurate because girls’ grades have been consistently higher than boys’ across several decades with no significant changes in recent years, the authors wrote.
“The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” said co-author Susan Voyer, MASc, also of the University of New Brunswick.
As for why girls perform better in school than boys, the authors speculated that social and cultural factors could be among several possible explanations. Parents may assume boys are better at math and science so they might encourage girls to put more effort into their studies, which could lead to the slight advantage girls have in all courses, they wrote. Gender differences in learning styles is another possibility. Previous research has shown girls tend to study in order to understand the materials, whereas boys emphasize performance, which indicates a focus on the final grades. “Mastery of the subject matter generally produces better marks than performance emphasis, so this could account in part for males’ lower marks than females,” the authors wrote.
Article: “Gender Differences in Scholastic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis,” Daniel Voyer, PhD, and Susan D. Voyer, MASc, University of New Brunswick, Psychological Bulletin, online April 28, 2014.
Daniel Voyer can be contacted by email or by phone at 1-506-453-4974.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

Boys’ Barriers to Learning and Achievement

Gary Wilson wrote a thoughtful article about some of the learning challenges faced by boys. Boys Barriers to Learning He lists several barriers to learning in his article.

1. Early years
a. Language development problems
b. Listening skills development
2. Writing skills and learning outcomes
A significant barrier to many boys’ learning, that begins at quite an early age and often never leaves them, is the perception that most writing that they are expected to do is largely irrelevant and unimportant….
3. Gender bias
Gender bias in everything from resources to teacher expectations has the potential to present further barriers to boys’ learning. None more so than the gender bias evident in the ways in which we talk to boys and talk to girls. We need to be ever mindful of the frequency, the nature and the quality of our interactions with boys and our interactions with girls in the classroom….A potential mismatch of teaching and learning styles to boys’ preferred ways of working continues to be a barrier for many boys….
4. Reflection and evaluation
The process of reflection is a weakness in many boys, presenting them with perhaps one of the biggest barriers of all. The inability of many boys to, for example, write evaluations, effectively stems from this weakness….
5. Self-esteem issues
Low self-esteem is clearly a very significant barrier to many boys’ achievement in school. If we were to think of the perfect time to de-motivate boys, when would that be? Some might say in the early years of education when many get their first unwelcome and never forgotten taste of failure might believe in the system… and themselves, for a while, but not for long….
6. Peer pressure
Peer pressure, or the anti-swot culture, is clearly a major barrier to many boys’ achievement. Those lucky enough to avoid it tend to be good academically, but also good at sport. This gives them a licence to work hard as they can also be ‘one of the lads’. …To me one of the most significant elements of peer pressure for boys is the impact it has on the more affective domains of the curriculum, namely expressive, creative and performing arts. It takes a lot of courage for a boy to turn up for the first day at high school carrying a violin case….
7. Talk to them!
There are many barriers to boys’ learning (I’m currently saying 31, but I’m still working on it!) and an ever-increasing multitude of strategies that we can use to address them. I firmly believe that a close examination of a school’s own circumstances is the only way to progress through this maze and that the main starting point has to be with the boys themselves. They do know all the issues around their poor levels of achievement. Talk to them first. I also believe that one of the most important strategies is to let them know you’re ‘on their case’, talking to them provides this added bonus….

If your boy has achievement problems, Wilson emphasizes that there is no one answer to address the problems. There are issues that will be specific to each child.

John Hechinger wrote in Bloomberg/Business Week about the data, Women Top Men In Earning Bachelor’s Degrees, U.S. Data Shows http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-10/women-top-men-at-earning-bachelor-s-degrees-u-s-data-show.html There are some good information sources about helping boys to learn. PBS Parents in Understanding and Raising Boys has some great strategies for helping boys learn. http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/school04.html
Trying to pretend there are no gender differences is leading to some differences in outcome for many male children. Even Beltrand and Pan want very badly to emphasize environmental factors, which are important, but clearly is an P.C. explanation which skates over biological gender differences.

Those trendy intellectuals who want to homogenize personalities into some “metrosexual ideal are sacrificing the lives of many children for their cherished ideal of some sociological utopia.
There is no one solution to solving a child’s achievement problems and a variety of tools may prove useful. Whether there is a “boy crisis” can be debated. The research is literally all over the map and a variety of positions can find some study to validate that position. If your child has achievement and social adjustment problems, whether there is an overall crisis is irrelevant, you feel you are in a crisis situation. There is no one solution, be open to using a variety of tools and strategies.

So, how is your boy doing?

There should not be a one size fits all approach. Strategies must be designed for each population of kids.

Other Resources:

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading http://gettingboystoread.com/content/classroom-strategies-get-boys-reading/

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/brochure/meread/meread.pdf

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/4423.pdf

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-2/boys.html

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success http://www.k12reader.com/boys-and-reading/

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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/

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http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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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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Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls

7 Jan

Moi wrote about gender differences in Boys are different from girls despite what the culture is trying to say

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

Quite often, children who are disciplined tend to be boys and more often than not, boys of color. The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions  Schwartz reports about the Texas study conducted under the auspices of the Council of State Governments. Martha Plotkin reports at the Council of State Governments site in the article, Out of Class Into Court Discretion in School Discipline has Big Impacts, Groundbreaking CSG Study Finds:

The numbers are startling.

Nearly 60 percent of students in Texas received at least one disciplinary action—including in-school suspensions ranging from a single class period to several days, with no cap on how many suspensions they can receive in a school year;

More than 30 percent had out-of-school suspensions of up to three days, with no cap on the number in a year;

About 15 percent were sent to Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs for an average of 27 days;

Approximately 8 percent were placed in Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs, averaging 73 days.

Those are some of the findings from a recent report, Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement. The study, released July 19, was a partnership between The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M….

Students who were repeatedly disciplined often experienced poor outcomes at particularly high rates. The Texas study found that 15 percent of Texas students had 11 or more disciplinary violations between seventh and 12th grades; about half of those frequent violators had subsequent contact with the juvenile justice system. Repeated suspensions and expulsions also predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once, compared with 5 percent of students who had not been disciplined.

Even students who were disciplined less frequently were still more likely to repeat a grade or drop out. A student who had experienced a discretionary disciplinary action was twice as likely to repeat a grade as a student who had the same characteristics and attended a similar school but was not suspended or expelled. The results were also troubling in regard to keeping students with disciplinary histories in school. Nearly 10 percent of students with at least one disciplinary contact dropped out of school, compared to just 2 percent of students with no disciplinary actions.

http://www.csg.org/pubs/capitolideas/sep_oct_2011/schooldiscipline.aspx

Some in the current culture do not want to recognize that boys have different styles, because to say otherwise is just not politically correct (P.C.). Being P.C., however, is throwing a lot of kids under the bus. https://drwilda.com/2011/11/02/boys-are-different-from-girls-despite-what-the-culture-is-trying-to-say/

Huffington Post is reporting in the article, Elementary School Bias Against Boys Sets Them Up For Failure: Study:

Academics from the University of Georgia and Columbia University think they have more insight into why girls earn higher grades on report cards than boys do, despite the fact that girls do not necessarily outperform boys on achievement or IQ tests.

Christopher Cornwell, head of economics at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, UGA’s David Mustard and Columbia’s Jessica Van Parys have published a study that they say shows “gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls.”

The researchers analyzed data from 5,800 elementary school students and found that boys performed better on standardized exams in math, reading and science than their course grades reflected. The authors suggest that girls are truly only outperforming boys in “non-cognitive approaches to learning” — defined as attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility and organization — leading to better grades from teachers. The study is published in the latest issue of The Journal of Human Resources. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/elementary-school-bias-boys_n_2404898.html

The University of Georgia highlights Professor Cornwell’s research in the following press release, Why girls are better students, even when they’re not:

Why do girls get better grades in elementary school than boys—even when they perform worse on standardized tests?

New research from the University of Georgia and Columbia University and published in the current issue of Journal of Human Resources, suggests that it’s because of their classroom behavior, which may lead teachers to assign girls higher grades than their male counterparts.

The skill that matters the most in regards to how teachers graded their students is what we refer to as ‘approaches toward learning,’” said Christopher Cornwell, head of economics at UGA’s Terry College of Business and one of the study’s authors. “You can think of ‘approaches to learning’ as a rough measure of what a child’s attitude toward school is: It includes six items that rate the child’s attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility, and organization. I think that anybody who’s a parent of boys and girls can tell you that girls are more of all of that.”

The study, co-authored by Cornwell and David Mustard at UGA and Jessica Van Parys at Columbia, analyzed data on more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It examined students’ performance on standardized tests in three categories—reading, math and science—linking test scores to teachers’ assessments of their students’ progress, both academically and more broadly.

The data show, for the first time, that gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls. In every subject area, boys are represented in grade distributions below where their test scores would predict.

The authors attribute this misalignment to what they called non-cognitive skills, or “how well each child was engaged in the classroom, how often the child externalized or internalized problems, how often the child lost control, and how well the child developed interpersonal skills.” They even report evidence of a grade bonus for boys with test scores and behavior like their girl counterparts.

This difference can have long-reaching effects, Cornwell said.

The trajectory at which a kid moves through school is often influenced by a teacher’s assessment of their performance, their grades. This affects their ability to enter into advanced classes and other kinds of academic opportunities, even post-secondary opportunities,” he said. “It’s also typically the grades you earn in school that are weighted the most heavily in college admissions. So if grade disparities emerge this early on, it’s not surprising that by the time these children are ready to go to college, girls will be better positioned.”

Research about gender differences in the classroom and beyond has grabbed headlines recently. Titles like Hannah Rosin’s “The End of Men and the Rise of Women” and Kay Hymowitz’s “Manning Up” have spent months on best-seller lists and inspired countless discussions in the media.

We seem to have gotten to a point in the popular consciousness where people are recognizing the story in these data: Men are falling behind relative to women. Economists have looked at this from a number of different angles, but it’s in educational assessments that you make your mark for the labor market,” Cornwell said. “Men’s rate of college going has slowed in recent years whereas women’s has not, but if you roll the story back far enough, to the 60s and 70s, women were going to college in much fewer numbers. It’s at a point now, where you’ve got women earning upward of 60 percent of the bachelors’ degrees awarded every year.”

But despite changing college demographics, the new data may not be reflecting anything fundamentally new.

My argument is that this has always been true about boys and girls. Girls didn’t all of the sudden become more engaged and boys didn’t suddenly become more rambunctious,” Cornwell said. “Their attitudes toward learning were always this way. But it didn’t show up in educational attainment like it does today because of all the factors that previously discouraged women’s participation in the labor force, such as a lack of access to reliable birth control.”

What remains unclear, however, is how to combat this discrepancy.

The most common question we’ve gotten is whether or not the gender of the teacher matters in regards to grading students,” Cornwell said. “But that’s a question we can’t answer because there’s just not enough data available. As you can probably guess, the great majority of elementary school teachers are women.”

See, Girls Outpace Boys Mostly Due to Classroom Behavior http://www.educationnews.org/international-uk/girls-outpace-boys-mostly-due-to-classroom-behavior/

Sarah D. Sparks posted Report Points to Widening Gap In Boys’ Education Attainment at Education Week.

As the needs of global labor change and college readiness standards increase, American boys have been slower to adapt than girls, according to a report set to be released this morning.

Thomas Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, in Washington, has been arguing since the mid-1990s that American men are treading water economically as women gain ground. His latest report, Economic Change Effects on Men, presented at the Washington-based Boys Initiative meeting this morning, expands his workforce and higher education data to K-12 education.

Mortenson argues that teaching styles and discipline policies cause boys to disengage sooner than girls and drop out at higher rates. Among his findings:

In 2010, 72.8 percent of children lived with a father, down from 88.8 percent in 1960, when these data were first reported.

In 2010, 62.8 percent of young men who graduated from high school enrolled in college, up 7.6 percentage points from 1970, but far below the continuation rate for young women—74 percent in 2010, up 25.5 percentage points from 1970. “Each spring, the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out its spring study on recent high school graduates, and I’ve been compiling that data since 1959,” Mortenson told me. “The gap between males and females is now greater than 10 percentage points, and it’s never been that wide before” favoring girls during his years of analysis.

Boys ages 6 to 14 are more than twice as likely as girls to have a developmental disability and three times as likely to be diagnosed with mental retardation.

Mortenson told me he thinks school format is partly to blame, with greater focus on writing and test preparation and fewer opportunities for active projects. As he puts it: “Boys have to be doing something: Things have to be blowing up or being built or going really fast. If you ask them to sit down and write and read, more physically passive activities will turn off boys before they turn off girls.”

There are some good information sources about helping boys to learn. PBS Parents in Understanding and Raising Boys advises the following strategies:

Let them play. Give boys lots of opportunities for physical activity and don’t expect them to sit still for long periods of time. “Play is the work of childhood, it’s how kids learn social skills and develop verbal skills, and it’s vanishing from the classroom. Kids are not being allowed to play enough in school, both indoors and outdoors,” says Jane Katch.

Create learning activities where boys use their bodies. “Boys learn best when learning is ‘hands-on.’ They learn by touching, moving, climbing on, and building things. They solve problems physically so if kids are handling real things, they will learn more effectively. This applies to kindergarten and throughout their school experience,” says Joseph Tobin.

Let boys read (and listen to) books that appeal to their interests. “Know your boys, know their passions, and know what books can speak to those passions. Boys are open to reading if they can make their own choices. We read to connect to interests we have and literacy piggybacks on those interests,” says Thomas Newkirk. “I tell my prospective teachers that they should have at least a thousand books in their heads possibilities for students to read. Unless we can build a base in reading thousands and thousands of words our students will never be able to read the classics. And by reading, I think we need to look at all kinds of reading — magazines, graphic novels, humor, etc. — and not just classical literature.”

Read aloud to boys and have them read aloud to you. “One practice that is critical is reading aloud to boys. This stops way too early in homes and in schools. Reading aloud is a bridge to reading the child might do later on, independently,” advises Newkirk.

Allow boys to write about what interests them instead of what interests you. “When children are learning to write, give them opportunities to write about subjects that are most meaningful to them — what they love, what they hate, what scares them and what excites them,” recommends Katch. “This way they will learn the power and significance of using the written word to communicate. If they write in a way that causes others to be disturbed, then talk about ways they can write what is important to them without disturbing others rather than prohibiting their expression. I personally think Pokemon is boring but I know a boy who wrote 27 books about it and went from being a non-writer to a terrific writer. Another”” practice is connecting writing to digital storytelling. I think we need to conceptualize reading and writing as multi-modal involving not only print but music, visuals, and more,” adds Newkirk.

Allow discussion of topics boys may want to talk about (but teachers and girls may not). “In a classroom that allows boys’ thoughts and fantasies to be expressed in their stories and their play, controversial issues will come up. In my class, some children did not want to hear any story that contained killing,” notes Katch. “But several boys complained that their stories of good guys and bad guys sometimes need to contain killing off the bad guy. When we discussed the problem, the children realized that everyone thought it was all right to kill the bad guys; there were objections only when a character was killed who was not clearly bad. So the boys agreed that they would only kill off evil characters. The children realized that by talking about what was important to them, they could communicate with each other and come to an agreement that felt right to everyone.”

Allow boys to express humor in appropriate ways and at appropriate times. “Include satire, parody, and humor in the curriculum, and don’t be too hard on boys who are class clowns. Instead, acknowledge the boy’s skill at being humorous. If the boy gets credit for this quality, he may not repeat the behavior. If you treat a clown as your biggest problem you are creating a conflict. Treat that boy with respect and respectfully ask him to make jokes at another time, if they get out of control,” advises Joseph Tobin. “Sometimes, you just have to have a sense of humor about the boy’s sense of humor. Most teachers I know admit that as annoying as boy humor can be, it can also brighten up the day,” adds Michael Thompson.

Remember, there are different approaches to educating boys than educating girls.

Resources:

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success

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