Single-Sex Education - Research Paper Example

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Several studies have disputed the claims made by researchers and practitioners of same-sex classrooms. These concerns have been voiced by a number of researchers, but also from civil liberties groups that feel forcing boys or girls into a situation where classrooms are “separate but equal” infringes upon their civil rights…
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Single-Sex Education
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Several studies have disputed the claims made by researchers and practitioners of same-sex rooms. These concerns have been voiced by a number of researchers, but also from civil liberties groups that feel forcing boys or girls into a situation where classrooms are “separate but equal” infringes upon their civil rights. Some studies seem to be purely motivated by political beliefs, while others are thoroughly researched and professionally presented. One such study that raises questions about the efficacy of single-sex classrooms focused on reading and math classes in a middle school with a high population of minority students. The focus of the study was to look at levels of academic achievement for boys and girls in these classes. There was also a component designed to gauge the overall learning environment in each classroom. In general, girls outscored boy in both reading and math. The problem with the higher scores is they were not conclusive enough to establish a strong correlation between the girls being in the single-sex classrooms and the fact that they scored higher than the boys. For the boys, their academic achievement actually declined in math and science when put into a single-sex classroom (Baker, 2002, p. 14). The lower scores for boys in these middle school science and math classes are troubling. It appears these results refute the wisdom of single-sex classrooms in this instance. But closer examination of the study reveals that it is not, in fact, a blanket condemnation. The researchers admitted that the curriculum and pedagogy were not well suited for boys. This admission alone shows that boys and girls are better suited to some instructional techniques than others. Another problem arises from the fact that the learning environment in the girl’s classrooms was much better than the boy’s classroom. The researchers openly speculate that the number of disruptions and discipline issues encountered may be a result of failing to match the boys in the study with the proper curriculum and pedagogy. The results of this study refute the claims made by proponents of same-sex classrooms, but some of the admitted weaknesses in the study confirms the efficacy of the theoretical foundations upholding single-sex classrooms. Another presentation of metaresearch indicates that when all factors in the educational environment are considered, single-sex classrooms and single-sex schools really offer no advantage over co-educational settings (Smithers and Robinson, 2006, p.3). The difficulty in comparing same-sex schools to other co-educational school is problematic because most same-sex schools are private institutions that can be selective about who enters the student body. Public schools are required to take on all students, regardless of ability level. Other factors such as student preference during course selection and student or parental preference for single-sex or co-educational settings were also discussed. In short, the findings indicate that there is a difference in the types of classes girls self-select than boys. Girls are found to shy away from physics and advanced math. This is true wherever students may select their own courses. The startling increase in girls deciding to enter advanced math and science from 1965-1985 did coincide with the demise of the single-sex school for girls in Great Britain. Unfortunately, so many other societal shifts were occurring at the same timed, causality could not be determined. A final study of the single sex-classroom that seems to indicate there are as many disadvantage as there may be advantages was conducted in 2006. The results of this independent research were surprising. Of the thousands of studies conducted on single-sex classroom since 2000, only 40 of them have been accepted by the National Center for Education Statistics (Bracey, 2006,p.6). The finding of this research suggests that most of the studies that support or refute single-sex education are flawed. Most of these studies were found to have failed to control for race, economics and intellectual ability factors. The only viable solution to stating the efficacy of single-sex education is to conduct more studies so a comprehensive body of research can be established. All three of these studies raise questions about single-sex education in general, and the single-sex classroom specifically. Continuing is sure to lend more light on this subject, but that does not dismiss the many sound investigations that support single sex education as superior to co-educational settings. The voices on both sides are strong. Some see it as a civil rights issue, equating single-sex classroom with racial segregation. Others feel that education in America is in such a poor spot, why not try something new and innovative? Work Cited Baker, Dale. "Good Intentions: An Experiment in Middle School Single Sex Math and Science Classes with High Minority Enrollment." Journal of Women and Minorities in Engineering 8 (2002): 1-23. Print. Bracey, Gerald. "Separate but Superior? A Review Of Issues And Data Bearing On Single-Sex Education." The Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice (2006): 1-49. Print. Smithers, Alan, and Pamela Robinson. "THE PARADOX OF SINGLE-SEX AND CO-EDUCATIONAL SCHOOLING." Centre for Education and Employment Research (2006): 1-56. Print. Read More
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