Gender effects for student perception of the classroom psychosocial environment

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Abstract

A future shortage of science teachers has been predicted, and since women are presently underrepresented in the sciences, they are a good potential source for future science teachers. Unfortunately women appear to become less interested in science as they continue in school. Because the classroom psychosocial environment has been shown to be related to learning outcomes, it may contribute to women's lack of interest in sciences. This study compared the classroom environments perceived by fourth grade, seventh grade and high school boys and girls in classes taught by males and females to determine if any perceptual differences existed. The three, two factor MANOVAS (teacher gender by student gender) showed no differences for fourth grade students, one for seventh grade students and three for high school students. The seventh grade boys and girls perceived classes taught by females as having more friction than classes taught by males and high school boys and girls perceived classes taught by females as being more difficult than classes taught by males. Further, for the high school students it appears that classes are perceived more favorably when the opposite genders are combined. These perceptual differences combined with role modeling may contribute to the lack of women in science. More research is necessary to determine causal relationships.

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