Saturday, January 5, 2013

Study explains why girls perform better in school

Although a difference in the average intelligence level between boys and girls has never been proven, it is often said that girls perform better in school. Because there does not seem to be a biological explanation for this phenomenon, there may be other reasons for the differences between the sexes when it comes to school performance. According to a study from the University of Georgia and Columbia University, the difference may actually lie in how teachers perceive the behaviour of their young students.

In order to be able to compare how children are graded in school, the scientists looked at standardized tests in three categories: reading, math and science. This renders it possible to make comparisons between grades given by teachers. A total of 5800 children, ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, were included in the study and had their performance analysed. This showed that there is a difference in how boys and girls are graded, the latter group receiving higher grades.

To explain the variety in grades given by teachers despite equal student performance, the scientists looked at behavioural patterns in the classroom. According to the study, girls engage more in so-called non-cognitive behaviour that earns them higher marks. Examples include engagement in the classroom, development o social skills and how often a child loses control in the classroom. This form of behaviour is dubbed non-cognitive because it is unrelated to actual study performance.

Apparently, performance in school does not differ significantly between genders, but external factors related to classroom behaviour nevertheless results in a difference in grading. More evidence for this notion was found by revealing that boys showing the aforementioned non-cognitive behaviour are, on average, awarded equal grades as girls. According to the scientists, it is necessary to find a solution for this disparity, but they do not appear to have the answer. Obviously, grading should be based on a student's performance, and external factors, such as classroom behaviour, should not be of influence.

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