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Males and Females Learn: Similarities and Differences

Similarities in the Way Males and Females Learn

A new wave of feminism has reintroduced the subject of gender equality in education. Supporters of inclusive academic environments, where all genders are welcome, argue that there are no distinct differences in the male and female thinking processes, which is proved by multiple studies (Varol & Yilmaz, 2010; Kersey et al., 2019). Researchers state that while neurological and biochemical diversions between the brain structures of males and females are important to be considered, children’s upbringing and social environment matter much more (Wehrwein et al., 2007). Alyssa J. Kersey et al. (2019) measured 3 to 10-year-old children’s neural development during the viewing of educational mathematics videos. The study had demonstrated that there were no significant differences in neural functioning related to mathematics development between boys and girls (Kersey et al., 2019). Burcu Varol and Sinem Yilmaz (2010) evaluated children’s ability to engage in autonomous language learning and concluded that both girls and boys equally participated in similar activities. The study showed that male and female students have similar autonomous learning behaviors. In conclusion, it is crucial to take into account various biological and sociological similarities that guide boys and girls through the learning process.

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Differences in the Way Males and Females Learn

Conversations about gender equality have also had a number of negative effects on the popularity of the ‘controversial’ research that underlines key differences between male and female brains. Such findings often help to explain gender-specific educational preferences and a significant gender gap in performance. Due to different evolutionary demands, male and female brains have distinct differences in functions and development. Boys’ brains develop slower, which is why it might be a good idea for a male student to start school a year later than a female student the same age (Wehrwein et al., 2007). There are also biochemical differences since boys have less serotonin and oxytocin than girls (Honingsfeld & Dunn, 2003). Such hormones play a crucial role in generating a sense of calm, which explains why boys tend to be more aggressive (Duckworth & Seligman, 2006). According to Duckworth and Seligman (2006), male students represent the majority of discipline referrals, while girls demonstrate higher academic performance. Even though boys’ failure to thrive in a traditional academic environment is questionable, performance rates provide researchers with crucial information about the differences in gender-specific adaptation to a certain learning environment. Such statistical data implies that gender differences affect performance and class dynamics.

Better academic performance among female students may be the subject to the educational oppression girls have faced over the years. Girls want to prove themselves, which explains why they tend to show up to tests more, even if they are failing a class (Kobayashi, 2002). Female students’ goal to succeed stems from the effects of marginalization in academics (Kobayashi, 2002). This proves that educational differences between girls and boys may be a result of numerous social implications, which supports an earlier point that the environment affects academics more than biology. However, biology should not be excluded from the conversation. There are gender differences related to senses and the way humans gather information. Boys tolerate noise and movement better, while girls respond faster to sound, color, and light (Honingsfeld & Dunn, 2003). Honingsfield and Dunn (2003) also add that boys perform better with kinesthetic activities and spatial relationships, and girls are more successful with verbal and auditory activities. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that male and female learning styles may differ in accordance with their biological, sociological, and environmental differences.

Evaluation of Single-Gender Academic Environments

In the process of evaluating single-gendered classrooms and schools, it is important to consider two major factors, which are academic performance and socialization. There might be a divide as to which one is an essential aspect of learning, but in order to construct a coherent argument, both concepts need to be evaluated. In terms of performance, single-gender classrooms outperform traditional academic environments (Benson et al., 2011). According to Benson et al. (2011), scholarly data consistently demonstrate that there are significant differences in performance between co-ed and single-gender classrooms. However, there is no need to give up co-ed institutions since the study shows the difference in academic performance between single-gender classrooms and schools is negligible (Benson et al., 2011). Therefore, it might be good to introduce single-gendered classrooms in traditional co-ed schools. This way, students can socialize in-between classes but stay concentrated throughout lessons. It might also be a solid alternative for educators since they can get an opportunity to tailor their approach in accordance with the students’ biological differences.

When it comes to socialization, educators prefer traditional academic settings. Erjona Molla (2016) argues that socialization is vital in every person’s life. She adds that gender socialization is crucial because it implies that children learn “to behave, feel, think according to the forms that in the social aspect are appropriate for their sex” (Molla, 2016, p. 2). Being around a different gender allows people to develop social cues and behavioral patterns that are essential to their successful functioning in modern society. Moreover, Wells et al. (2016) argue that a more diverse learning environment generates a better understanding of equality and anti-discrimination. Schools should move towards being more inclusive and diverse in order for the students to learn how to form and maintain relationships with someone who differs in gender or race.

Gender-Specific Educational Strategies

In order to create an effective academic environment for students, educators need to consider gender specifics that may affect the learning process. General recommendations include the adoption of a mission statement that would address gender differences for every institution (Wehrwein et al., 2007). School districts can provide professional development opportunities for teachers to encourage their awareness of possible similarities between genders in academic environments (Wehrwein et al., 2007). Local governments can also explore the idea of developing innovative classroom arrangements in order to improve performance while ensuring socialization among boys and girls. There are also some gender-specific recommendations that need to be addressed.

Educators can develop gender-specific approaches to teaching by incorporating scientific data. When it comes to boys, teachers should encourage movement in the classroom and utilize abstract and visual exercises in the curriculum (Honingsfeld & Dunn, 2003). As for girls, there should be a focus on verbal and auditory teaching (Honingsfeld & Dunn, 2003). Teachers need to make sure girls have access to computers and science labs. They can start STEM initiatives in order to normalize a male-dominated field to female students. There should be an effort coming from schools to employ more male teachers in order to present appropriate role models to boys. Both girls and boys need male and female mentors, which they can trust to address their concerns.

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References

Benson, A. M., McFarland, M., & McFarland, B. (2011). Comparing achievement scores of students in gender specific classrooms with students in traditional classrooms. Tarptautinis psichologijos žurnalas: Biopsichosocialinis požiūris, 8, 99-114. Web.

Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Self-discipline gives girls the edge: Gender in self-discipline, grades, and achievement test scores. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 198-208.

Honingsfield, A., & Dunn, R. (2003). High school male and female learning-style similarities and differences in diverse nations. The Journal of Educational Research, 96(4). Web.

Kersey, A. J., Csumitta, K. D. & Cantlon, J. F. (2019). Gender similarities in the brain during mathematics development. Science of Learning, 4(19).

Kobayashi, Y. (2002). The role of gender in foreign language learning attitudes: Japanese female students’ attitudes towards English learning. Gender and Education, 14(2), 181-197. Web.

Molla, E. (2016). The role of school in gender socialization. European Journal of Educational Science, 3(1), 1-7. Web.

Varol, B., & Yilmaz, S. (2010). Similarities and differences between female and male learners: Inside and outside class autonomous language learning activities. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 3, 237-244.

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Wehrwein, E. A., Lujan, H. L., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2007). Gender differences in learning style preferences among undergraduate physiology students. Advanced Physiology Education, 31(2), 153-157.

Wells, A. S., Fox, L., & Cordova-Cobo, D. (2016). How racially diverse schools and classrooms can benefit all students. The Education Digest, 82(1), 17-24. Web.

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