Action Research Final Project. Strategies for Improving Male Achievement in Language Arts at the Secondary Level. The Problem:.
Action Research Final Project Strategies for Improving Male Achievement in Language Arts at the Secondary Level
The Problem: • Middle or high school boys now lag behind girls on many measures of academic performance, such as social studies, linguistics and literature, and social well-being, while girls have made great progress and caught up with boys in mathematics and science (Du,2003, 35). • Boys score lower in language arts on standardized tests, populate special education classes and are more likely to be labeled LD, dominate school discipline statistics, enroll in fewer advanced classes and have higher drop-out rates (Taylor, 2002, pg 69). • Women go to college more frequently (67% vs. 58% of HS graduates in 1997), (Pollack, 1998, pg 234). • Women earn 55% of all Bachelor’s Degrees (NCES statistics, 2006)
Serious Implications • According to U.S. secretary of Education Margaret Spelling this male achievement gap has" has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy." (US Department of Education Speech transcripts).
My Own Data: • At my Spring Practicum site, 27% of high school males failed 10th grade English. Only 17% of females did. • Additionally, 19.7% of females earned a grade of A+, whereas only 7% of males did. • n=140
More research and theories: • “…boys are in deep trouble. For reading comprehension, perceptual speed, or word association memory, boys outnumbered girls at the bottom of the scale by a margin of 2 to 1, and many fewer boys than girls scored in the top 10 percentage the groups. For the last thirteen years, females of all ages have outscored males in writing proficiency (Pollack, 1998, pg 234). • WHY: “The poor boy view advances the notion that boys are victimized in schools-by female teachers, advocates for girls, a poorly adapted pedagogy, and the like. The failing schools, failing boys view hold that boys simply suffer more than girls from the defects of contemporary education. A third view, the familiar boys will be boys apology, reasserts an essentialist faith that biology creates inescapable limits to boys’ ability to sit still in classrooms….” (Reichert, p. 544 & 545) • WHAT DO YOU THINK????
Possible Solutions: • Select books that boys tend to enjoy more (non-fiction, technical, etc –go to www.guysread.com ) • Use multiple assessment strategies • Vary writing types used (not just creative, essays, etc). • Reflect on grading and classroom material for possible gender bias. • Staff development on developmental gender differences. • Incorporate more technology • Foster mentoring relationships. • Implement more “action-oriented” activities.
One choice: more action! • “ Movement helps release pent-up energy, cut down on discipline problems, and stimulate the bored or zoning-out brain” (Gurian, 2001, pg. 241) • “Provide more active learning opportunities [for boys] in classroom” (Bleuer, 2002,page 5) • “Boys tend to learn best when they are allowed to move around and manipulate objects. Active learning strategies are meaningful ways to engage boys in learning because they enable boys to actively question and explore” (Taylor, 2002, pg 70).
The Intervention: Nonequivalent control group design. • Structure: 2 classes. 1 class receives treatment of three action-oriented activities per week (ranging from 10-30 minutes). Other class receives traditional instruction. Duration is for one month and topic will be required literature (example: To Kill a Mockingbird). • Measurement: mixed methodology of: pre/post open-ended survey (quantitative and qualitative) and 4 weekly quiz scores and 2 exams (quantitative).
Implementation • Must define “action-oriented” (some ideas: skits, games, scavenger hunts, jeopardy, construction of models, exercise, etc) • Threats to validity: researcher bias, schedule, time of day, etc.
Sources: • Bleuer, J. (2002). Are boys falling behind in academics? Greensboro, NC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services. (ERIC Reproduction Document Service No. ED 470601). • Du, Yi. (2003). Gender differences and student learning. Edina, MN: (ERIC Reproduction Document Server No. ED 477525). • Gurian, Michael. (2001). Boys and girls learn differently: A guide for teachers and parents. (1st ed.)San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. • Pollack, William. (1998). Real boys: rescuing our sons from the myths of boyhood (1st ed.). New York: Random House. • Reichert, Michael C. and Kuriloff, Peter (2004). Boys' selves: identity and anxiety in the looking glass of school life. Teachers College Record 106(3), p 544-573. • Taylor, Deborah. (2002) Helping boys succeed: which research strategies curb negative trends now facing boys? Educational Leadership, 68-70.