Gender Differences Research Paper

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Gender Differences in Special Education

EVIDENCE SPEAKS

Gender Differences

This study will seek out Gender Differences among students, especially in special education. Identifying and understanding these gender differences will help schools develop approaches and programs, which will address the differences and maximize students' learning and future career opportunities.

Male and Female Brain Sizes and Structures

Lenroot and his team of researchers (2007) report the findings of the largest longitudinal pediatric neuro-imaging study that the male brain is 8-10% larger than female. The study conducted 829 scans of 387 subjects, aged 3-27. Total brain volume peaks at average age of 10.5 in females and 14.5 in males. The male brain's rate of increase is highest during adolescence but female gray matter peaks by 1-2 years earlier than male. The researchers say that the differences in brain size should not, however, be made a basis of functional advantage or disadvantage between the sexes. In addition to structure size, the number and size of neurons and glial cells, packing density, vascularity and matrix composition are also considered. An understanding of the sexual dimorphism of brain development and the factors influencing them may be relevant to developmental neuro-psychiatrry. This field deals with disorders and the different ages of onset, prevalence and symptoms among boys and girls (Lenroot et al.).

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TOPIC: Research Paper on Gender Differences Assignment

The National Assessment of Educational Progress of the U.S. Department of Education conducted a national sample of American students to measure their academic performance (Mead, 2006). The survey began in the early 90s among students in the 4th, 8th and 12th grades. On the one hand, girls outperformed boys in reading at all the three grade levels. The gaps became smaller in the fourth grade but larger in the 8th and the 12th grades. Girls also outperformed boys in writing. Boys outperformed girls in Math, science and geography in all the three grade levels but only slightly. In history, they obtained comparative scores. Comparatively, girls did better than boys in reading and writing than boys doing better in math, science and geography than girls. In the history of the survey, girls always scored better in reading than boys. Younger boys, however, have been recently catching up as the gap narrowed at age 9. The gap has neither widened nor narrowed at ages 13 and 17 since 1971. After these ages, boys began to decline in achievement. In Math, girls aged 9 and 13 did better than boys, who later improved and outperformed girls 1-2 decades later. Although younger boys are now catching up, there is a probability that a new "girl crisis" in elementary and middle-school Math can evolve. The survey concluded that there has been no radical or recent decline in boys' performance or a trend in that direction. Boys scored higher in some areas and girls in other areas (Mead).

Individual Differences and Gender Equity

Boys and girls are neither uniform in nature nor are their needs (Ho et al., 2010). Their large differences extend to racial, ethnic and socioeconomic aspects. African-American girls may be subjected to racial and gender discrimination but they do better than boys academically. They have stronger self-esteem, better body image and greater assertiveness than boys. Latino girls too do better in math than Latino boys in the 8th grade and in science in the 12th grade. But Latino girls have the highest dropout rates at 1 in 5 at age 17 (Ho et al.).

Ho and his research team (2010) point to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status as influencing enrollment in remedial and special education and extracurricular participation more than gender. Those from ethnically diverse and lower socioeconomic schools have less access to technology. Regional differences are another factor. Girls in rural southern regions have performed lower than girls from other regions. The researchers conclude that a greater understanding of all the factors and gender would improve schooling in the U.S. In addition, the educational system can also enhance students' cultures, interests, and learning habits to make their learning experience more meaningful. This can, in turn, address social problems resulting from the school situation. The researchers stress that educational equity aims at enriching classrooms, expanding choices and opportunities at raising standard of excellence for all students (Ho et al.).

Gifted Students and the Gender Gap

Girls natural verbal skills in the elementary grades make them read better than boys

(CEC, 2010). Boys take over the lead in the middle school and high school when advanced science and math are taught. Gifted students begin to encounter the gender problem in the elementary level. Sandy Berger of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education says that girls become aware of female stereotypes and boys of male stereotypes. In high school, boys come to terms with the athlete stereotype. The gifted male athlete relishes the highest self-esteem among all gifted groups. This is a problem situation to a non-athletic gifted boy who is talented in other areas. Gifted girls, on the other hand, easily identify if their talent is verbal. They are often outperformed if math or science is their gift. Boys who are strong in math and science do not have this problem. But gifted boys with problem behavior are likely to be moved to special education more than accelerated to the higher class (CEC).

Berger suggests certain strategies for teaching gifted students of both genders (CEC 2010). The teacher should use constructivism or child-centered strategies. These strategies explore and students' needs and teach them accordingly. A student who can produce excellent work should be made to produce much more of the same or another end-product. The curriculum should be varied according to student interest. If the subject or topic is the Revolutionary War, the gifted student may be asked to research or write on the daily life of a teenager or the scientific and medical practices of the period. The thrust should be for gifted boys and girls alike to take maximum advantages of their talents and to conceptualize abstractly. The gifted mind often works in the reverse of average minds. The gifted mind begins with the abstract while the average mind begins with the concrete, according to Berger (CEC).

Gender Equity

The Maine Department of Education Task Force on Gender Equity for Education was formed to explore educational equity issues for K-12 boys and girls (Task Force, 2007). It adopted and studied the differences in achievement by gender in reading and writing from the Maine Education Assessment scores. The Task Force noted the dramatic gap in reading between the 4th and 8th grades. This Reading gender gap is worldwide and moderate in the United States when compared with other countries (Task Force).

Lyn Brown (1998 as qtd in Task Force, 2007) conducted a comparative social class analysis of girls belonging to the low socioeconomic status in Maine. She found that the girls viewed femininity as being outspoken and possessing survival skills. These qualities include physical fighting, which often lead them to trouble in school. Girls from the middle-class suburbs also struggled against the femininity stereotype in order to hide anger and aggression. But girls in low socioeconomic and working class have a different social and cultural training, which also limited their opportunities in the past (Brown as qtd in Task Force).

The differences between low socioeconomic status and higher appeared more significant than the difference in genders (Task Force, 2007). Both boys and girls from low socioeconomic families scored lower than those from higher status. Their scores in mathematics and science and technology were comparative in all grade levels. Although the current position about girls achieving better than boys, it will be incomplete without inputting additional demographic data. These data will produce a more accurate and holistic view of the students and their needs. Putting gender and socioeconomic status factors together prompts educators to consider each child as unique and view him or her from multiple perspectives or angles. Boys and girls are naturally more alike than different and the differences may emanate from factors other than gender and complicated by these factors. The Task Force recommends this approach and suggests that generalizations and stereotypical expectations be avoided to explore the true needs of each student (Task Force).

Gifted and Talented Education Programs

These programs emphasize the need to provide a broad range of advanced-level enrichment experiences and varied ways of responding to these experiences (Renzulli & Dai, 2010). These approaches identify the opportunities, resources and encouragement for students' involvement in activities they choose. This thrust will allow many opportunities for students' developing high-level creative and productive accomplishments not found in existing special programs. It is encouraging that special programs for the gifted are being integrated into general education. These programs conform to the democratic ideal, which takes in the full range of individual differences. It also allows the development and programming of talent potentials of students subjected only to basic types of curricular experiences. The incorporation of gifte3d and talented education into the general education system is seen to redefine and redirect the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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