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Abstract

In their analysis of National Assessment results Haertel et al.d̊ found that 13 year-old boys and girls are quite similar in science learning. However, this similarity does not exist for 17 year olds. One possible cause for this change is socio-cultural pressures. In this study, we suggest that the science classroom learning environment may contribute to these pressures due to differences in classes taught by male and female science teachers. The Learning Environment Inventory was used to assess student perceptions in junior high, biology, chemistry, and physics classes and significant differences were found. Students perceived classes taught by females as more formal, more goal directed, more diverse and as having more instances of teacher favoritism and friction between students. Classes taught by males were perceived as more difficult. Possible relationships between these perceptual differences and changes in girls' preference for science are discussed and suggestions for future research are given.