In the United States, Cornelius Riordan has shown that girls who attend single-sex Catholic schools typically come from a lower socioeconomic background than girls who attend coed Catholic schools. Among boys, Professor Riordan found no difference in socioeconomic status. They examined test results from public schools, single-sex and coeducational.
OFSTED found that the superior performance of students in single-sex schools cannot be accounted for by socioeconomic factors, but appears instead to be a direct result of single-sex education. They also found that students in single-sex schools have a significantly more positive attitude toward learning. The Foundation study, which suggests that single-sex education is more beneficial for girls than for boys, is somewhat at variance with an earlier study which suggested that single-sex education was more beneficial for boys than for girls.
Educator Graham Able published a study of student performance in 30 coeducational and single-sex schools in England. Able's study documented superior academic performance of students in single-sex schools, after controlling for socioeconomic class and other variables.
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This mythology has never been supported by any objective evidence, and any policy derived from it must presumably sacrifice the advantages to one sex in order to promote the cause of the other," he wrote. This directly contradicts the popular educational myth that boys do better in the classroom if girls are present to set them a good example. One could reasonably conclude from this study that both boys and girls are academically disadvantaged in co-educational schools, but that the disadvantage is greater for the boys.
A classic study from Jamaica: Marlene Hamilton, studying students in Jamaica, found that students attending single-sex schools outperformed students in coed schools in almost every subject tested. At the time of the study, public single-sex schools were still widely available in Jamaica, so that there were few if any socioeconomic or academic variables which distinguished students at single-sex schools from students at coed schools.
Hamilton noted the same pattern of results which has been found in most studies worldwide: Girls at single-sex schools attain the highest achievement; boys at single-sex schools are next; boys at coed schools are next; and girls at coed schools do worst of all.
Source: Marlene Hamilton. Performance levels in science and other subjects for Jamaican adolescents attending single-sex and coeducational high schools, International Science Education , 69 4 , Second category of evidence: "Before and after" studies Critics of single-sex education sometimes object that studies comparing students at single-sex schools with students at coed schools are intrinsically untrustworthy, because they say one can never control for all the confounding variables. Same students, same teachers, same facilities.
These studies offer another compelling proof of the superiority of single-sex education. In , Benjamin Wright, principal of the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, led his school in a transformation from traditional coed classrooms to single-sex classrooms. He decided to make the switch to single-sex classrooms in hopes of decreasing the discipline problem. The results exceeded his hopes. Discipline referrals dropped from about 30 per day to just one or two per day. The change in the atmosphere happened overnight.
Switching to single-sex classrooms had a dramatic effect, instantly. But improved discipline wasn't the only benefit of the change. But once we made the switch, the boys were able to focus on academics, and so were the girls. The boys, remarkably, shocked the state with what they did on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. Our boys went from being in the 10 to 30 percent listing to 73 percent.
They went from a reading average of about 20 percent to 66 percent. Our boys outperformed the entire state in writing. They went from being in a low percentile of something to 53 percent in writing. These results aren't confined to elementary schools. An inner-city high school in Montreal made the switch from coed classrooms to single-sex classrooms five years ago. Since making that switch, absenteeism has dropped from 20 percent before the switch to 7 percent now. About 80 percent of students pass their final exams, compared with 65 percent before the switch.
And, the rate of students going on to college has nearly doubled. You can read more about this Montreal high school here. Numerous similar cases have been documented in the United Kingdom. For example: John Fairhurst, principal of the Fairhurst High School in Essex, in southeastern England decided to reinvent his school as two single-sex academies under one roof.
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The students would take the same courses from the same teachers, but boys and girls would attend separate classes. Source: Judith O'Reilly, "Mixed school hits new heights with single-sex classes.
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A similar experiment in Mill Hill, also in England, achieved similar results. In Mill Hill, the county high school was divided up into a girls' wing and a boys' wing in Since that time, the number of pupils scoring high on the GCSE exam has risen from 40 percent to 79 percent. Alan Davison, the principal, comments that "Men and women's brains are different. It is crucial that we in education recognise that.
Source: Nicholas Pyke, "Blunkett plans single-sex classrooms. Note: In June , Mr. Blunkett was promoted to the post of Home Secretary. A University of Virginia study published in found that boys who attended single-sex schools were more than twice as likely to pursue interests in subjects such as art, music, drama, and foreign languages, compared to boys of comparable ability who attended coed schools.
Single-sex schools break down gender stereotypes. Coed schools reinforce gender stereotypes. Escaping Stereotypes: educational attitudes of male alumni of single-sex and coed schools,? Psychology of Men and Masculinity , , Researchers at Manchester University in England tested this approach more formally. They assigned students at five public schools either to single-sex or to coed classrooms. Among the girls, 89 percent assigned to single-sex classes passed the test, vs.
Similar findings were reported by researchers at Cambridge University, who examined the effects of single-sex classrooms in schools in four different neighborhoods, including rural, suburban and inner-city schools. They found that "using single-sex groups was a significant factor in establishing a school culture that would raise educational achievement. Click on the link to read the story which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph March 30, Third category of evidence: academic studies comparing single-sex schools with coed schools Cornelius Riordan, professor of sociology at Providence University in Rhode Island, published a series of studies in the 's and early 's comparing short- and long-term outcomes of graduates of single-sex Catholic schools in the United States with graduates of coed Catholic schools in the United States.
On a variety of measures, Riordan found that girls in single-sex schools consistently outperformed girls at coed schools. In Riordan's studies, the beneficial effect for boys is smaller than it is for girls contrast this finding with Graham Able's report [see above] that the benefits of single-sex schooling are greater for boys than for girls.
Riordan believes that the beneficial effects of single-sex schooling are most impressive for children from underprivileged backgrounds. However, this belief sets him apart from many other researchers in the field, particularly outside the United States. Source: Cornelius Riordan. Girls and Boys in School: together or separate?
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