Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Female Teachers’ Math Anxiety Affects Girls’ Math Achievement

We have seen many previous reports and studies in which teachers can be a significant factors in how well students understand a material. However, I think this is the first one I've encountered whereby there is a gender-specific effect. A new study concluded that if a female teacher has anxiety of her math skills, this will transfer more likely to female students in the class. What resulted is rather interesting: the female students will acquire the impression that boys are better at math than girls, and will also cause these students to perform poorer in mathematics.

But by the end of the year, the more anxious teachers were about their own math skills, the more likely their female students but not the boys were to agree that "boys are good at math and girls are good at reading."

In addition, the girls who answered that way scored lower on math tests than either the classes' boys or the girls who had not developed a belief in the stereotype, the researchers found.

The study was published in PNAS, and you can have access to the paper at the PNAS website, at least, I think you could since it is an open access article.


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