An article on HowToLearn.com asked the question of whether or not the educational gender gap was biologically or sociologically based. This article addresses many of the ways in which girls and boys have been found to differ when it comes to learning and performance, such as in learning to read, fine motor skills, attentiveness and ability to sit still.
The author offers four bullet points for our examination:
- Boys are three times more likely to have learning disabilities, including attention disorders (ADD or ADHD) and exhibit signs of difficulty at an earlier age.
- Speech and language delays, which affect almost 10 percent of children between four and six, is three to four times more common in boys than in girls.
- Girls are more likely to struggle with spatial learning, a key component in math, science and technology.
- Girls are more likely to have generalized anxiety disorder, which seems to develop at about 12 years old. In fact, two out of every three children with GAD are girls. One specific area cited is school, where girls demonstrate greater social and educational anxiety, which effects attitude about and performance in school.
The article also asks us to think about the ways in which tests may be more suited for boys to excel in the field of mathematics:
While narrowing, boys still maintain an advantage in the area, and consistently score about ten percent higher than girls, on the math portion of the SAT (college admission test).
Experts attribute this to the timed multiple-choice questions, which play to boys’ strengths; they also score slightly better on the math and science sections of national assessment tests.
This article addresses the fact that the gender gap narrows toward adolescence but it doesn’t follow these studies past adolescence to address the true factors behind why the education gap has caused so many more girls to graduate and peruse higher degrees.
What do you think? Does the data in the linked article help you understand the achievement gap, or does it simply raise more questions?
What can school systems do to help boys learn in a way that is more natural and effective?
Photo of teacher helping a little pupil courtesy of Shutterstock