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The impact of teacher's gender in the process of educating primary school boys and girls

Bojan Jeraj (2013) The impact of teacher's gender in the process of educating primary school boys and girls. PhD thesis.

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    Abstract

    The main purpose of the paper is to find out the significance of teacher’s gender and how it affects learning and education of both boys and girls. Theoretical part of the paper exposes some Slovenian and foreign research based findings about the differences between men and women regarding education and teaching methods. It also highlights differences in learning achievements between boys and girls, which are statistically equally important in Slovenia and abroad. An overview of differences in learning achievement between the two sexes is presented for various school subjects, together with the most common explanation for their origin. The paper separately deals with teacher’s gender as one of the possible factors for differences in learning achievement between boys and girls. Theoretical part also includes shorter overviews about the feminisation of teaching profession and the current sex ratio of primary school teachers in Slovenia and abroad. During the research that was carried out in the school year 2008/09 in Slovenian primary schools, we formed one sample consisting of primary school female and male teachers and two samples consisting of primary school female and male pupils. The teachers’ sample included 120 primary school teachers (59 men and 61 women). The first (smaller) pupils’ consisted of 452 primary school pupils (222 girls and 230 boys). The second (larger) pupils’ sample was formed to acquire pupils’ final marks. This sample included 1110 pupils from the 4th and 5th grade (558 girls and 552 boys). The smaller pupils’ sample was also a part of the larger sample. Two questionnaires were prepared during the research: one for the teachers and one for the pupils. The two questionnaires overlapped in three topics with the intention to determine whether there are notable differences regarding the viewpoints of female and male teachers, and those of female and male pupils. The overlapping (equal) topics in the questionnaire relate to the teaching methods, educational approaches and personality traits of female and male teachers. The following thematic sections were added to the questionnaire for teachers: the first and the second section included two open ended questions: Do you believe that the teaching methods between male and female primary school teachers differ? and Do you believe that educational approaches of female and male teachers differ? In the fourth section teachers expressed their viewpoints about personality traits and the behavioural reactions of boys separately from those of the girls. In the fifth section they expressed their opinions about their own personality traits, which are still stereotypically denominated on a gender basis within the existing society. The sixth section consisted of an open ended question, the purpose of which was to discover whether (in teacher’s opinion) from children’s point of view it would be necessary for children to experience male and female teachers during their first years in primary school. In the last section we acquired their objective data. Two sections were added to the pupils’ questionnaire as well: in the first section pupils listed 3 personality traits that teachers should possess according to their opinion. In the second section pupils were to decide whether they prefer being taught by male or female teachers. In the last section we acquired their objective data. A special form was prepared for the purpose of collecting final marks. We collected final marks from 62 primary school teachers (27 men and 25 women), teaching 4th or 5th grade. They provided the marks for the following subjects: Math, Slovene, Science and general (final) learning achievement. They were collecting final marks for the previous year (2007/08), due to the fact that the assessment of final learning achievement was abolished in the school year 2008/09. The most important conclusions of the research paper are: 1) The viewpoints of female and male teachers statistically do not significantly differ regarding the frequency of applying different teaching methods. Statistically important differences between the two sexes occur merely in the frequency of using 1 out of 21 teaching methods, namely male teachers encourage independent mind map making more often than female teachers. Female and male pupils have expressed their opinion about how much knowledge they acquire through different teaching methods. Statistically significant differences in the viewpoints between the two sexes can be observed only for one teaching method, namely female pupils state they learn more when preparing a paper or a poster in pairs (together with a female or male classmate). 2) Out of 38 statements about the educational approaches, discipline and punishment, viewpoints of female and male teachers show that 4 are significantly different. More male than female teachers confirm that they set the rules of the classroom behaviour at the beginning of the school year and introduce them to the pupils; more female than male teachers on the other hand say that they remind the disruptive female and male pupils of the set rules before they punish them; more female teachers also agree they do not recognise and consider the interests and desires of male pupils. Female teachers, as opposed to male teachers, are also more often impatient with male pupils than male teachers are. The research shows that female and male pupils perceive educational approaches of female and male teachers a bit differently. 3) Differences in the viewpoints of male and female teachers regarding personality traits and behavioural reactions of both boys and girls show that more male teachers as opposed to their female colleagues believe that boys have inquiring minds. The research also showed that more female than male teachers think boys are typically more disruptive in the classroom and that girls can also be inclined to conflicts. 4) Based on the results of knowledge assessment of male and female pupils in the 4th and 5th grade, our research showed that girls on average achieve higher final marks in all subject areas (Math, Slovene, Science and also general (final) learning achievement). Another, even more important finding shows that girls on average acquire similar marks in all subject areas whether they are taught by male or female teachers, while boys' marks are a lot worse when they are taught and assessed by female teachers. Thus, our research showed that boys on average achieve higher final marks when taught and assessed by male teachers. 5) The viewpoints of female and male teachers regarding the personality traits and qualities, related to teacher's work in general, did not show any statistically significant differences between the sexes. Differences in the viewpoints of female and male teachers regarding the personal traits, which are nowadays still frequently linked to gender stereotypes, show that more female than male teachers believe their main qualities are: tenderness, care, precision, friendliness and love for children. 6) Our research indicates that teacher’s gender is of great importance for both male and female pupils. More girls would prefer being taught by a female teacher, while more boys would mainly choose a male teacher. It is also interesting to observe that a great number of girls are quite eager to be taught by a male teacher, while the proportion of boys who would opt for a female teacher is significantly lower. 7) Answers to a question about the benefits children have if they experience both female and male teachers already during the first years of primary school were mostly affirmative among female and male teachers. The majority of teachers supported their affirmative answer by stating that during the early years of primary school the child’s urge to experience both male and female teachers could be related to his/her family, where both masculine and feminine figures are desired during the adolescence. Based on the results of the research we can conclude that primary school offers better possibilities for success to girls than it does to boys. We believe the feminisation of teaching profession should be considered a problem, mostly regarding differences in learning achievement between boys and girls. Also, well considered strategies for motivating men to join the profession should be developed. Commitment to a more balanced sex ratio of primary school teachers has been the praxis in many parts of the world. Providing the pupils interaction with both sexes already in primary school is not important merely because of the learning achievement but also in terms of children’s socialisation, and experiencing masculinity and femininity.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
    Keywords: education, teaching methods, gender, differences between the sexes, primary school teacher, boys and girls, learning achievement, feminisation, masculinity, femininity, gender stereotypes
    Number of Pages: 355
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    izr. prof. dr. Mojca Peček ČukMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=9629769)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 1444
    Date Deposited: 21 May 2013 08:41
    Last Modified: 21 May 2013 08:41
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/1444

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