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Title: The segregation of girls in mathematics
Author: Smith, Stuart W.
Awarding Body: Sheffield City Polytechnic
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 1986
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This thesis is a study of the effects of segregation by sex on learning in Mathematics. The attitudes and performance of a group of secondary girls who were taught Mathematics in segregated sets for five years have been compared with a group of similar girls who were taught in co-educational sets for five years in the same school. Comparisons were carried out using: a) the Tameside Numeracy Test; b) four short Mathematics tests; c) the external Mathematics examination results; d) an attitude questionnaire. Additionally a number of fifth year girls from both groups who regarded Mathematics as difficult were interviewed. Six Mathematics teachers were also interviewed. The segregated girls as a group performed better than the co-educated girls on the Tameside Numeracy Test, but on the four short tests the overall performance of the two groups was very similar. The results achieved by the two groups in the Mathematics external examinations were also very similar. The co-educated girls regarded Mathematics as significantly more useful than segregated girls, but there were no significant differences in the attitudes of both groups to the difficulty and enjoyment of Mathematics. The co-educated girls who were interviewed were generally critical of the behaviour of boys in lessons, but they mainly attributed their difficulties in Mathematics with the speed they were expected to move from topic to topic. Most of the segregated girls who were interviewed approved of segregated setting in Mathematics. The Mathematics teachers who were interviewed all felt that segregated setting benefited girls more than boys and younger pupils more than older ones. Several teachers expressed reservations about segregating older pupils. Although the results suggest that girls gain no long term benefit from segregated Mathematics setting, it is nevertheless felt that segregation may be worth preserving in the first and second years at the school.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available