GENDER PERFORMANCE DIFFERENCES IN READING AND ASSESSMENT TIMES FOR REGULAR AND SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS IN GRADE THREE
An Action Research StudySubmitted to Professor Joan SebastianByJeri D. StickneyIn partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Science in Special EducationNational University, San Bernardino, CaliforniaJanuary 31, 2006
Question What are the effects of the SRA Reading Laboratory 1C for individual and remedial reading instruction, and what times are optimal for reading assessment for regular and special education males and females in the third grade?
Statement of Problem • Research indicates that public schools need to address gender differences in reading. • Research indicates that male and female students may learn differently and need different methods of instruction and assessment times. • Federal and state demands for increased performance on state assessments require scrutiny of gender (male and female) subgroups in order to increase test scores.
Literature Review Summary • Overall Gender Brain Differences • Gender Cognition Differences • Gender Performance Differences • Gender Brain Hemisphere Differences • Gender and Learning Disabilities • Gender Instruction and Assessment Implications
Overall Gender Brain Differences • Hormones activate gender differentiation of brain development early in utero. • Hormones appear to be organizational and activational in regards to gender brain development. • Brain structure the same in males and females. • Specialization of neuron output and density in certain areas of brain different in males and females.
Gender Cognition Differences • General intelligence similar between genders. • Differences in specific areas. • Male advantage of mental rotation of two or three dimensional objects , spatial perception tasks and mathematical problem solving. • Female advantage of perceptual speed, perceptual accuracy, verbal fluency and certain memory functions.
Gender Performance Differences • Hormone influence is profound in gender performance differences: Males: - Testosterone in males is highest at approximately 8:00 A.M. and lowest at 8:00 P.M. - Males might do better in math and spatial skills in morning when testosterone is highest. - Males might do best on verbal and fine-motor skills in afternoon when testosterone is lower.
Gender Performance Differences, Continued Females: - Estrogen and progesterone levels in females highest at ovulation and lowest during menstruation. - During ovulation, females score higher on verbal performance than fine-motor coordination and higher on fine motor coordination than on math and spatial skills, and even lower on math and spatial skills than males. - During menstruation, when estrogen and progesterone is at lowest, females score 50 to 100% higher on mental rotation tests.
Gender Brain Hemisphere DifferencesGeneral Information Left Hemisphere Receptive and Expressive Language - Includes speaking, reading, writing, spelling, naming, and - Comprehension of grammar, syntax and description that includes time, rhythm, verbal concept formation, analytical reasoning, and verbal memory. Right Hemisphere Comprehension of language - Superior to right in distinguishing emotional tone, stress, pitch and melody. - Allows for interpretation of context and feelings of a speaker.
Gender Brain Hemisphere Differences, ContinuedManifestations of Gender Hemisphere Differences Males Language specialization in the left hemisphere and emotional specialization in the right hemisphere makes more difficult to express emotion because thinner corpus callosum. Larger right hemisphere results in better visual perception and discrimination which is centered in right hemisphere. Adept at creating voluble vocabulary Better at visual tasks Females Corpus callosum (connects right and left hemispheres of brain) is up to 23% thicker in females than males. Articulateness and fluency in language as a result. Emotions in both hemispheres which allows for easier access and ability to express feelings. More adept at utilizing vocabulary. Greater auditory perception which is centered in left hemisphere. Better at auditory tasks
Gender and Learning Disabilities • Higher incidence of males in special education. • Possible Comorbid Causes: - Prenatal abnormal testosterone influence - Male Trait Behavior - Biased psychological testing
Gender and Learning Disabilities, Continued • Prenatal abnormal testosterone influence. - Possible slow down or acceleration of migration of neurons from the neural crest into the cortex might be interrupted and cause disorders such as dyslexia or autism.
Gender and Learning Disabilities, Continued • Male behavior traits: - Competition, aggression, self-reliance, self-assertion, and self-confidence. - Higher incidence of negative behavior as a result of these traits could bring learning disabilities to the attention of educators to an increased degree.
Gender and Learning Disabilities, Continued • Biased psychological testing - Common discrepancy formula for IQ different for males and females to predict reading from age or grade level. - Intercept bias is lower for males and higher for females. - Regressive intercept utilized for males and females causal for overprediction of males and underprediction of females.
Gender Instruction and Assessment Implications • Public schools appear geared to female learners – more verbal instruction with minimum of visual and hands on instruction. • Emphasis on state testing results requires attention of specific educational subgroups – gender subgroups appear overlooked.
Gender Instruction and Assessment Implications, Continued Four Recommendations 1. Assessment development might need to be gender specific. 2. Instructors might need to examine teaching styles and instructional design to tailor lessons to each gender learning differences. 3. More multimodal and hands on instruction.
Gender Instruction and Assessment Implications, Continued 4. Instruction might need to be gender specific in single gender classrooms. - Reduce gender stereotypes - Instruction geared to male or female strengths and development of areas of need. - Reduce opposite gender pressure and distraction.
Intervention • SRA Reading Laboratory 1C was implemented for one trimester to one regular education classroom of male and female third graders. • Records were kept of various assessments to compare reading progress to the SRA program • Reading assessment was given in the morning and afternoon to determine optimal assessment time.
Data Collection • Seven sets of assessment - SRA - STAR NCR (National Curve Equivalent) - Houghton Mifflan Selection Tests - Accelerated Reader Houghton Mifflan Selection Tests - Houghton Mifflan Theme 1 and 2 tests - Report Card grades for Reading Comprehension - Brigance Form A & B • Student Survey • Observational Field Notes
Data Analysis, Cont. Brigance Scatter Plot Score Correlations
Data Analysis Results • Correlated SRA and STAR tests for gains and static (stayed the same) reading progression showed negative results . • Correlated SRA and STAR tests for regression of reading progression showed positive results. • More students gained in SRA reading progression as compared to regression. • Females showed higher reading progression in the SRA program. • There was a balance of students who gained or regressed for STAR tests. • Most students scored better on the Brigance A.M. test than the Brigance P.M. test • Special education males were balanced. One tested better on the A.M. test and one tested better on the P.M. test. • Females scored higher overall than their males counterparts in all test sets.
Teaching Practice Implications • Males did not progress, or score as well in reading comprehension as their female counterparts. • Closer monitoring of the SRA program with better assessment at the beginning, middle, and end of the program is needed. • Longer SRA implementation time to study results over time would provide better validity and reliability. • Change of instructional practice to optimize male reading performance is needed.
Future Research Implications • Male and Female brain development need to be intensely studied in regards to optimizing educational success. • New methods of delivering and designing instruction need to be developed. • Old methods need to be revised and possibly reimplemented or updated. • Same gender classrooms need to be considered and researched. • Frequent breaks, hands-on problem solving, and active movement need to be imbedded in learning.
Summary This research project was designed to discover whether gender differences might exist and be of significance in reading and assessment times for regular and special education students in grade three. Research and data indicate significant gender differences in reading progress, and positive results for morning assessment performance for both genders.