Friday, February 27th, 2015
Girls can do anything boys can do, especially in math and science, but what if teachers, whose goal is to educate and empower kids, are discouraging girls from these subjects without knowing it?
This may be the case, according to new study conducted by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The research suggests that the perceptions elementary school teachers have about what girls can and can’t do in math and science might be causing female students to shy away from those areas. Their unconscious biases are negatively impacting girls and unintentionally affecting the academic and career choices that female students make later in life.
Three groups of students, from sixth grade through the end of high school, were asked to take two exams. The exams were then graded by two different people: one who didn’t know their names and one who did. The results showed that girls were scored higher than boys only when their tests were graded by the objective scorer versus the familiar scorer, reports Science Daily.
Researchers in Tel Aviv continued to follow the students and also noticed a pattern: if a girl was discouraged by an elementary school teacher, they were less likely to register for advanced-level science and math courses. But boys who were encouraged, despite being scored lower, actually began to excel more and more.
“It isn’t an issue of discrimination but of unconscious discouragement,” said Dr. Edith Sand, an economist at the Bank of Israel and an instructor at TAU’s Berglas School of Economics. “This discouragement, however, has implications. The track to computer science and engineering fields, which report some of the highest salaries, tapers off in elementary school.”
Women around the world are still underrepresented in multiple fields, especially ones related to math and science. Although strides have been made in the U.S. to help young girls have a more STEM-focused education, to play with more toys related to science, technology, engineering, and math, and teach them how to code with HTML, there is still more to be done so that they won’t face inequalities in the future.
As parents, it’s important to continue encouraging kids, regardless of gender, to pursue all endeavors, which will definitely be a step in the right direction.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
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Child Health, Education, New Research, Parenting News, Parents News Now
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
A point against the idea that there’s a good-at-math gene you’re lacking—scientists have discovered that many of the genes that influence a child’s math ability also impact their skill at reading. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, compared DNA and math and reading test results for nearly 2,800 12-year-olds in the UK, looking for DNA differences and how skills matched up.
Of course, there isn’t complete overlap (could that account for the lack of math or language prowess in an otherwise brilliant person?)—and the study authors also found that nurture can also play a role in whether your child becomes the next Einstein or Shakespeare.
“We looked at this question in two ways, by comparing the similarity of thousands of twins, and by measuring millions of tiny differences in their DNA. Both analyses show that similar collections of subtle DNA differences are important for reading and maths,” study author Oliver Davis, of University College London, said in a school news release.
“However, it’s also clear just how important our life experience is in making us better at one or the other. It’s this complex interplay of nature and nurture as we grow up that shapes who we are.”
Not sure where your child’s talents lie? Take our quiz.
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Education, Must Read, New Research, Parents News Now
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
A set of skills involved in recognizing and processing numbers can predict by the first grade how well a child will perform in math in their later school years, ongoing math cognition research at the National Institutes of Health is discovering. More from NBC News:
About 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lacks the math competence expected of a middle-schooler, meaning they have trouble with those ordinary tasks and aren’t qualified for many of today’s jobs.
“It’s not just, can you do well in school? It’s how well can you do in your life,” says Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health, which is funding much of this research into math cognition. “We are in the midst of math all the time.”
A new study shows trouble can start early.
University of Missouri researchers tested 180 seventh-graders. Those who lagged behind their peers in a test of core math skills needed to function as adults were the same kids who’d had the least number sense or fluency way back when they started first grade.
“The gap they started with, they don’t close it,” says Dr. David Geary, a cognitive psychologist who leads the study that is tracking children from kindergarten to high school in the Columbia, Mo., school system. “They’re not catching up” to the kids who started ahead.
If first grade sounds pretty young to be predicting math ability, well, no one expects tots to be scribbling sums. But this number sense, or what Geary more precisely terms “number system knowledge,” turns out to be a fundamental skill that students continually build on, much more than the simple ability to count.
What’s involved? Understanding that numbers represent different quantities — that three dots is the same as the numeral “3″ or the word “three.” Grasping magnitude — that 23 is bigger than 17. Getting the concept that numbers can be broken into parts — that 5 is the same as 2 and 3, or 4 and 1. Showing on a number line that the difference between 10 and 12 is the same as the difference between 20 and 22.
Factors such as IQ and attention span didn’t explain why some first-graders did better than others. Now Geary is studying if something that youngsters learn in preschool offers an advantage.
Image: Young schoolchild doing math, via Shutterstock
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