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Mixed grade classes harder on girls

Posted by Sally O'Brien, on 18/09/2014. Mixed grade classes harder on girlsTags: Education And Politics Parenting

A study done by ERSI that used data on over 8,000 9 year old children from the 'Growing Up in Ireland study' found that one in three students were in mixed grade classes and that this affected girls more than boys.

Multigrade teaching happens when two or more year groups (for example, second and third class) are taught together by one teacher in the same classroom.

According to the report by the Economic Research and Social Institute, over a third of all Irish classrooms contain pupils from other grades that are either younger or older. It also found that while teaching arrangements made little difference to boys behavior and academia it did have an negative effect on girls’ performance.

The report highlighted that overall there was no significant difference in student performance in mixed classes than in single grade classes. However, the effects of being in a multi grade class affected younger girls as girls taught in a class with older children had lower reading and maths test scores than similar girls in single-grade classes.

The report looked at the different social and economic background variables including class sizes, gender mix and the teachers’ experiences. It writes:
“Girls taught with younger children also had a more negative view of their abilities and popularity. In contrast, we find very few differences in the outcomes for boys. The exception is that boys taught in classes with younger peers tend to have poorer behaviour.”

“What accounts for these gender differences? It appears that girls make more comparisons with their peers than boys and as a result feel more negative about their abilities. They compare themselves to students at very different levels (older and/or younger) and therefore judge their own performance negatively. This negative view of their abilities may then affect their actual academic performance. Children tend to make friends within their own age-group so this may limit girls seeing themselves as popular across the different age-groups within their class.”

These findings, on the disparity between girls and boys in multi grade classes, highlight the need to develop innovate ways to counteract the negative affect classrooms have on girls’ self-image and performance.


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