mathematics

Women teachers transfer their fear of doing math to girls

January, 2010

A study involving first- and second-grade teachers found that boys' math performance was not related to their (female) teacher's math anxiety while girls' math achievement was.

Consistent with studies showing that gender stereotypes can worsen math performance in females, a year-long study involving 17 first- and second-grade teachers and their 52 boy and 65 girl students has found that boys' math performance was not related to their (female) teacher's math anxiety while girls' math achievement was. Early elementary school teachers in the United States are almost exclusively female. Math achievement was unrelated to teacher math anxiety in both boys and girls at the beginning of the school year. Moreover, achievement was negatively associated with belief in gender stereotypes. Girls who confirmed a belief that boys are better in math than girls scored six points lower in math achievement than did boys or girls who had not developed a belief in the stereotype (102 versus 108). Research has found that elementary education majors have the highest rate of mathematics anxiety of any college major.

Reference: 

[1450] Beilock, S. L., Gunderson E. A., Ramirez G., & Levine S. C.
(2010).  Female teachers’ math anxiety affects girls’ math achievement.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107(5), 1860 - 1863.

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Children with home computers likely to have lower test scores

July, 2010

An American study suggests that getting a home computer can have a negative effect on reading and math scores in middle-grade students, particularly those from disadvantaged families.

Data from North Carolina's mandated End-of-Grade tests (2000-2005), which includes student reports on how frequently they use a home computer for schoolwork, watch TV or read for pleasure, reveals that students in grades five through eight (c.10-13), particularly those from disadvantaged families, tended to have lower reading and math scores after they got a home computer. The researchers suggest that the greater negative effect in disadvantaged households may reflect less parental monitoring.

Reference: 

[1635] Vigdor, J. L., & Ladd H. F.
(2010).  Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement.
National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series. No. 16078,

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Gender gap persists at highest levels of math and science testing

July, 2010

SAT and ACT results demonstrate a dramatic drop in gender ratio on math and science tests from 1981 to 1995, but little change since then.

Analysis of 30 years of SAT and ACT tests administered to the top 5% of U.S. 7th graders has found that the ratio of 7th graders scoring 700 or above on the SAT-math has dropped from about 13 boys to 1 girl to about 4 boys to 1 girl. The ratio dropped dramatically between 1981 and 1995, and has remained relatively stable since then. The top scores on scientific reasoning, a relatively new section of the ACT that was not included in the original study, show a similar ratio of boys to girls.

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