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From Research to Practice Examining Gender Differences to Increase Success for All. Presentation to the American Supervision and Curriculum Development Annual Conference March 2004 Edina Public Schools Minnesota.

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from research to practice examining gender differences to increase success for all

From Research to Practice Examining Gender Differences to Increase Success for All

Presentation to the American Supervision and Curriculum Development Annual Conference

March 2004

Edina Public Schools


Gender Gap is a serious issue in American education--our stories mirror the world

District Conducted Gender Research

--Findings, Implications, Discussions, and Communication

Further Implementations and Practices

Future Commitment--District strategic planning

Presentation Organization

why did edina start the innovation of gender difference research in 2001
Why Did Edina Start the Innovation of Gender Difference Research in 2001?
  • Superintendent’s observations of award ceremonies and student lists over years
  • Parent questions about class ranks and college applications
  • Educators’ experience in the classroom

Do both boys and girls fully benefit from the American educational system and its instructional delivery?

national and international news support edina s research findings
National and International News Support Edina’s Research Findings
  • Academic Achievement Gap Between Girls and Boys--Washington Bureau Special Report, Sep. 19, 2003
  • The Gender Gap: Boys Lagging--CBS 60 Minutes, May 23, 2003
  • Girls Top of the Class Worldwide--UK BBC news, Sept. 16, 2003
  • Promoting Boys’ Achievement--New Zealand, Education Review Office, 2000
  • Boys Performing Badly--Australia, The Age, 2002
  • A Yawning Gap Between Girls’ and Boys’ Achievement in Canada has been Revealed. --International, 2003
female and male entry rates to university
Female and Male Entry Rates to University

Data Source: BBC News Report, 9-16-2003.

the gap between girls and boys in literacy scores at age 15
The Gap between Girls and Boys in Literacy Scores at Age 15

Data Source: BBC News Report, 9-16-2003.

edina gender difference research a district innovation in 2001
Edina Gender Difference Research A District Innovation in 2001
  • Superintendent’s objective in 2001
  • Gender Task Force
  • Data collection and research
  • Communication of Findings at local, state and national levels
  • Implications and Considerations
further gender difference practices a continuous innovation
Further Gender Difference Practices A Continuous Innovation
  • Changes in the English Language Arts Curriculum and Instruction
  • Single-Gender Class Experiment
  • Differentiation Instruction in Gender Differences
  • Investigation of Gender Differences in learning in AP English Literature
  • Future Commitment--District Strategic Planning in 2004
research questions
Research Questions
  • Are there gender differences that influence student development and learning?
  • Can we identify evidence about gender differences in the classroom and school?
  • Are there behaviors, expectations, and systems that impact student learning?
  • How can classrooms and schools customize instruction best to meet the needs of both boys and girls?
literature review
Literature Review
  • Research and commentary during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s focused on “girls in crisis” in education.
      • academically
      • socially
      • psychologically
  • The 90’s introduced research, public discourse, and educational literature focusing on male underachievement.
      • academically
      • emotionally
      • socially
data collected
Student Enrollment and Participation

Secondary Class Rank and Honor Roll

Elementary Reported Student Grades

Student Reported Survey Data

Post-College Status of Edina Graduates

State, National, and International Data

Data Collected
students report spending at least one hour doing these activities weekly grades 6 9 12
Students Report Spending at Least One Hour Doing These Activities Weekly, Grades 6, 9 & 12
girls also dominate in extracurricular activities
Girls Also Dominate in Extracurricular Activities

Data: Education Dept, National Center for Education Statistics.

most of the industrialized world ages 25 to 34 with at least a college education
Most of the Industrialized WorldAges 25 to 34, with at least a college education

Data: Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development

number of u s women awarded degrees per 100 men
Number of U.S. Women Awarded Degrees Per 100 Men

Data: Andrew Sum, Northeastern University Center for Labor Market Studies.

What Does It Mean for the Economy, Business and Society that Boys Are Falling Behind Girls in Education?
  • Leading more and more to a “girls’ club” in college
  • Threatening the marriage squeeze
  • Men could become losers in a global economy that values mental power

For 30 years, the focus at schools has been to empower girls, in and out of the classroom.

Adapted from The New Gender Gap, Business Week, May 26, 2003.

progress in implementation and practices
Progress in Implementation and Practices
  • Gender Considerations for Selecting Language Arts Materials
  • Differentiation Instruction in Gender Differences in Classroom
  • Single-Gender Class Experience
  • Continue investigation of gender differences in student learning style in AP English literature
gender gap in literacy achievement
Gender Gap in Literacy Achievement
  • NAEP Testing
  • PISA Testing
changes in elementary language arts
Changes in Elementary Language Arts
  • Examine Writing Instructional Practices

--Writing Workshop

--Clear goals and feedback


changes in elementary language arts1
Changes in Elementary Language Arts
  • Reading Instructional Practices

--Flexible Grouping

--Classroom Libraries

--Reading for Pleasure

--Reading Comprehension Strategies

changes in secondary language arts
Changes in Secondary Language Arts
  • Instructional Considerations

--Teach and practice concrete discussion strategies

--”Frontload skills”

--Social and Physical Considerations


--Student Control

--Clear goals and feedback

changes in secondary language arts1
Changes in Secondary Language Arts
  • Curriculum

--Young Adult fiction in Middle School


--Range of difficulty and length

--Include humor, action/adventure

--Non-print (Video, TV, Film, Internet)


--Goal of Lifelong Reading

differentiating instruction in classrooms with attention to boys
Differentiating Instruction in Classrooms with Attention to Boys
  • Have lots of things for boys to touch, when reading and writing are be taught.
  • Use boy only groups when needed.
  • Encourage close bonding between teacher and students.
  • Allow physical movement in the classroom.
  • Offer opportunities for storytelling and other activities that develop imagination and verbal skills.
  • Minimize the amount of teacher talk in order to allow more discussion among students.
  • Allow the use of silent manipulative.
  • Allow sufficient waiting time, 3-5 full seconds, to answer questions.
boys and learning
Boys and Learning
  • Some boys prefer to work independently.
  • Some boys may get bored easily and need stimulation.
  • Some boys enjoy abstract conversations, e.g., debates.
  • Some boys need to be able to move.
  • Some boys like non-fiction with diagrams and charts.
  • Some boys are visual.
  • Some boys need more time to process questions.

* adopted from Frederick County Public Schools, Maryland

single gender class experiment

Single-Gender Class Experiment

Middle School Social Studies Classes

single gender classes 2002 03
Single-Gender Classes 2002-03
  • In May 2003, two classes (24 males and 18 females) of 9th grade American government were selected as single-gender classes.
  • This research attempts to study different needs of boys and girls, and seeks approaches to reduce achievement gaps between genders embedded into NCLB.
study design
Study Design
  • The single-gender classes were scheduled for the first block of time with 89 minutes, every other day.
  • Two teachers, one female and one male, who taught these students in co-ed gender classes, taught the single-gender classes.
  • The curriculum, activities, and behavior management policies for the two single-gender classes were to be as similar as possible.
data collection
Data Collection
  • Achievement data--students’ test scores from 2 quizzes and 2 tests before and after experiencing the single-gender classes. Data included students from the single-gender classes and randomly selected co-ed classes.
  • Survey data--students’ experience and opinions about the single-gender classes.
  • Teacher data--Teachers’ experiences and perspectives.
percent of students reporting students in their class participated in all kinds of class activities
Percent of Students Reporting Students in Their Class Participated in All Kinds of Class Activities
teacher preconception
Female Teacher:

Girls would be more open toparticipation.

Girls would be more relaxed in class.

Fewer student discipline and classroom management problems.

Girls would be more likely to achieve academically at a high level.

Male Teacher

A “boys will be boys” group mentality takes over the class. Boys would cause more classroom management problems.

Boys will be less distracted by girls and focus more on the content of the class.

Teacher Preconception
teacher observations for all girl class
Teacher Observations for All-Girl Class
  • Girls were quiet at the beginning.
  • By the end of the quarter, discussions were really flowing.
  • An atmosphere of respect for each other that was not present in a co-ed environment was present in the all-girl class.
  • Girls appeared to focus on the merit of the topic and not on trying to impress either the teacher or classmates.
  • Fewer offered dissenting opinions than in the all-boy or co-ed classes.
teacher observations for all boy class
Teacher Observations for All-Boy Class
  • Boys began right away to participate eagerly, even aggressively in classroom discussion.
  • A variety of opinions existed and were shared openly among boys.
  • Students discipline and classroom management were even better than the teacher predicted.
  • The group or mob mentality did not really take off.
student observation and perceptions
Female Students:

Diversity of perspectives in class discussion.

Male Students

Diversity of perspective in class discussion.

Girls study better than boys and they can help boys.

Student Observation and Perceptions
  • Girls have a more positive attitude toward the single-gender classes than boys.
  • When elements of equitable education are present, such as equitable class size, teaching practice, academic curriculum, and teacher collaboration, both boys and girls have an equitable opportunity to succeed.
  • Effective instruction is more important than grouping of students in single-gender or mixed gender classes.
  • We need to continue exploring the option of single-gender classes, which may provide experience for students and teachers that they may not be able obtain from the co-ed classes.
  • The single-gender class may be more suitable for subjects which require less discussion and less emphasis on diverse opinions.
  • It is too early to judge the success of the single-gender classroom experience.
recommendations for future single gender class
Recommendations for Future Single-Gender Class
  • Offer a single-sex class based on students’ and teachers’ voluntary choice.
  • Offer single-sex classes at different ages and in different subjects over a longer period of time.
  • Encourage all teachers to gather data about the results of instruction by gender.
  • Consider replicating the design of this study and change the gender of the teacher.
further investigation of gender differences in learning styles
Further Investigation of Gender Differences in Learning Styles
  • A survey designed by high school AP English teachers was conducted to all classes of AP English Literature in Fall 2003 and will be conducted again in May 2004.
  • This survey intends to find any differences between genders in learning styles and their preference in reading materials.
  • One hundred and nine students, 38 male students and 71 female students, participated in this survey.
findings from the ap english literature survey
Findings From the AP English Literature Survey
  • Females prefer to read novels, while males prefer to read short stories and biographies.
  • Females feel the most challenging genres are nonfiction and biography, while males feel the most challenging genre is novels.
  • More females enjoy reading for pleasure than males. Females like to read literature,universal themes, romances and family, while males like to read science, history, biography, sports, hobbies, and technology.
further considerations for educational practices
Further Considerations for Educational Practices

1. Both male and female teachers and staff need to be represented at all levels of education.

2. Initiate and systemize professional development for educators that focuses on gender differences and similarities in social, emotional, physical, and intellectual characteristics in learners.

3. Using the data, engage in strategic planning that includes information and communication about gender differences.

further considerations for educational practices1
Further Considerations for Educational Practices

4. Engage parents, students, and educators in dialogue and planning that results in further understanding and communication.

5. Pay attention to adult and student socializing culture in schools and classrooms.

6. Apply brain-based research that gives attention to understanding innate gender differences. Consider innovative classroom arrangements that customize teaching and learning to meet the unique needs of boys and girls.

further considerations for educational practices2
Further Considerations for Educational Practices

7. Invite and consider the use of dads, moms, grandparents, big brothers and sisters to school/ classrooms.

8. Design mentor programs for both boys and girls. Coach, tutor, and sponsor individual students based on each individual’s specific interests and goals.

9. Don’t confuse discipline with “breaking the spirit” of youth.

10 Consider educational alternatives to suspension from school. Boys need to be in the classroom and in school.

further considerations for educational practices3
Further Considerations for Educational Practices

11. Conduct student to student, girls to boys dialogues and allow the students to ask the opposite gender:

  • What are the conflicts and questions we have with each other?
  • What do we want in the way of behavior and understanding from one another?
  • What do we appreciate or admire about each other?

12. Continue to explore and find effective ways to support academic engagement on the part of all students, especially boys. Consider summer school, after and before school options.

further considerations for educational practices4
Further Considerations for Educational Practices

13. The models of best practice are multiple and complex, yet very attainable for educators and communities. Know that this is pioneering work; so involve other school districts in solutions. Engage in information sharing seminars with other school districts.

14. Overall, keep expectations high for all students and communicate that regularly to them!

studying gender differences becomes the district strategy in 2004
Studying Gender Differences becomes the District Strategy in 2004
  • The district will develop and implement programs and practices that will address gender differences in student performance and other measures of success.
  • Implement strategies to better support successes of both genders.
key components
Key Components
  • Identify best practices.
  • Identification of student special needs.
  • Provide staff development on gender differences.
  • Exploring scheduling and course offering to accommodate different needs.
  • Hiring practices.
  • Programs and activities.

Ken Dragseth, Ph.D., Superintendent (National Superintendent of the Year, 2003),

Yi Du, Ph.D., Director of Research and Evaluation,

Maria Giampietro, Director of Administrative Services,

Julie Hatzung, Principal of Coutryside Elementary School,

Katie Williams, Principal of Concord Elementary School,

*Eileen Johnson, English LA Curriculum Specialist, is absent due to illness,

thank you very much for attending this session

Thank you very much for attending this session!

We greatly appreciate your feedback!

For Information, please go to the District Website at: