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Does the sex of the mathematics teacher make a difference in a single-sex setting? A case for girls
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posted on 15.05.2017by Wallace, Jenna Lee
In Australia, girls continue to be outperformed by boys on large scale mathematics tests. One explanation provided in the literature for this gender gap is the interaction between teacher and student in the classroom. This study was inspired by the persistent patterns of gender differences in mathematics achievement favouring boys at the participating school, a large independent school in Victoria, Australia. In this study, the aim was to determine whether the sex of the mathematics teacher has any effect on girls’ mathematics learning outcomes. The focus of the study was to examine Year 8 girls’ mathematics achievement, and their attitudes and beliefs about mathematics, and examine if there were differences between those girls taught mathematics by a female teacher and those taught mathematics by a male teacher. The study comprised an analysis of the annual ACER PAT-Maths test results collected from the school’s database, and the administration of an anonymous student survey. The girls in the sample were from two groups: one group had a male mathematics teacher, the other a female mathematics teacher. The results of this study provide little support for the claim that girls’ mathematics achievement outcomes can benefit from having a female mathematics teacher. However, trends were found in the data to suggest that girls taught mathematics by a female teacher hold more positive views about females than about males teaching them mathematics.