header image

More must be done to engage disadvantaged students and girls in learning mathematics

PISA 2012 results in focus

2014-01-14
Given girls’ lower levels of confidence in their own abilities, school systems, teachers and parents should try to find – or create – more effective ways of bolstering girls’ beliefs

More must be done to engage disadvantaged students and girls in learning mathematics

PISA 2012 results in focus

More must be done to engage disadvantaged students and girls in learning mathematics
Disadvantaged students are more likely to report skipping classes or days of school and arriving late for school, and are less likely to have a strong sense of belonging and hold positive attitudes towards school. For example, in OECD countries, while 85% of advantaged students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I feel like I belong at school”, only 78% of disadvantaged students did. In some countries these differences are more pronounced. For example, in France, Korea and Lithuania, the difference between the percentage of advantaged students who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement and the proportion of disadvantaged students who did is larger than 15 percentage points.

While disadvantaged students may have fewer resources at home through which they can benefit from their motivation to learn, there are established strategies to aid disadvantaged students at school, including: developing conditional, incentive-based programmes aimed at promoting attendance at school (targeted policies); creating a culture that values effort, perseverance and motivation (policies inherently more universal in nature); and building strong partnerships among families, teachers and local communities to ensure that socio - economic disadvantage does not prevent these students from flourishing.

Girls underperform in mathematics, compared with boys, in 37 of the 65 countries and economies that participated in PISA 2012; in OECD countries, girls underperform boys by an average of 11 points. However, this gender gap between the average 15-year-old boy and girl masks even wider gaps among the least and most able students. In most countries, the most able girls lag behind the most able boys in mathematics performance.

Gender gaps in drive, motivation and self-beliefs are particularly worrying because these factors are essential if students are to achieve at the highest levels; and the relationship between drive, motivation and mathematics-related self-beliefs on the one hand, and mathematics performance on the other, is particularly strong at the top of the performance distribution. Unless girls believe that they can achieve at the highest levels, they will not be able to do so.

Although boys show higher mean mathematics performance, differences within the genders are far greater than those between the genders. In addition, the size of the gender gap varies considerably across countries, suggesting that strengths and weaknesses in academic subjects are not inherent, but are acquired and often socially reinforced.

Given girls’ lower levels of confidence in their own abilities, school systems, teachers and parents should try to find – or create – more effective ways of bolstering girls’ beliefs in their own abilities in mathematics, both at school and at home. In the short term, changing mindsets may require making mathematics more interesting to girls, identifying and eliminating gender stereotypes in textbooks, promoting female role models, and using learning materials that appeal to girls. Over the longer term, shrinking the gender gap in mathematics performance will require the concerted effort of parents, teachers and society as a whole to change the stereotyped notions of what boys and girls excel at, what they enjoy doing, and what they believe they can achieve.
Read more >>>
Source: OECD
Given girls’ lower levels of confidence in their own abilities, school systems, teachers and parents should try to find – or create – more effective ways of bolstering girls’ beliefs

TWITTER