Spiders or Butterflies? Despite Student Preference, Gender-Biased Lesson Models. Do Not Impact Interest, Attitude, and Learning in Biology

Main Article Content

Amy Buxton
Jamie Jensen
Geoff Wright
Seth Bybee
Andrea Phillips
Tanner Phillips
Michael Steadman

Abstract

Background:  Educational research often emphasizes the prevalent gender gap between males and females in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In our study, we took a new approach on gender research by specifically considering whether there is a gender-oriented preference in curricular models (the specific lesson examples and content used to teach a broader biology topic, e.g., dust mites as a model of symbiosis) implemented to teach biology and how these models affect student interest, attitude, and learning. We sampled kindergarten through sixth grade students to determine whether a gender-oriented preference concerning lesson models exists and when that preference is most prevalent. We then designed active-learning curricula surrounding the models showing the largest gender preference and measured whether lesson model or presenter gender impacted student interest, attitude, and learning. 


Results: Our findings show that students do indeed indicate a preference to learn using their own gender-oriented lesson models from kindergarten through sixth grade, but that the lesson model and presenter gender do not impact student interest, attitude, or learning during an active learning biology presentation.


Conclusions:  Our findings suggest that teachers as early as kindergarten should be aware and sensitive to the gender-based preferences for models used in teaching science that may exist within their classrooms and opt to alternate between male- and female-oriented lesson models to create a more inclusive classroom and to encourage especially females to pursue science.  However, we offer strong advice to teachers to implement active-learning lessons as this may be the key to eliminating such gendered effects, as shown by our research.

Article Details

How to Cite
Buxton, A., Jensen, J., Wright, G., Bybee, S., Phillips, A., Phillips, T., & Steadman, M. (2020). Spiders or Butterflies? Despite Student Preference, Gender-Biased Lesson Models. Do Not Impact Interest, Attitude, and Learning in Biology. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 7(4), 87-101. https://doi.org/10.14738/assrj.74.8074
Section
Articles

References

Auger, R. W. (2005). The development of elementary-aged children’s career aspirations and expectations. Professional School Counseling, 8(4), 322-329.
Bailey, B. A., & Nihlen, A. S. (1990). Effect of experience with nontraditional workers on psychological and social dimensions of occupational sex-role stereotyping by elementary school children. Psychological Reports, 66, 1273-1282.
Baram-Tsabari, A., & Yarden, A. (2011). Quantifying the gender gap in science interests. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9(3), 523-550.
Baram-Tsabari, A. & Yarden, A. (2008). Girls’ biology, boys’ physics: evidence from free-choice science learning settings. Research in Science & Technological Education, 26(1), 75-92. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02635140701847538
Barmby, P., & Defty, N. (2006). Secondary school pupils’ perceptions of physics. Research in Science & Technological Education, 24(2), 199-215. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02635140600811585
Barthel, D. (1988). Putting on appearances. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (1990). The role of attitudes and interventions in gender-schematic processing. Child Development, 61, 1440-1452.
Bloom, B. S. (1984). Taxonomy of educational objectives. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Bursal, M. (2013). Longitudinal investigation of elementary students’ science academic achievement in 4-8th: Grade level and gender differences. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 13(2), 1151-1156.
Bretl, D. J., & Cantor, J. (1988). The portrayal of men and women in U.S. television commercials. Sex Roles, 18, 595–609.
Bybee, R. (1993). An instructional model for science education. Developing Biological Literacy, Colorado Springs, CO: Biological Sciences Curriculum Studies.
Carrington, B., Tymms, P., & Merrell, C. (2008). Role models, school improvement and the ‘gender gap’—do men bring out the best in boys and women the best in girls? British Educational Research Journal, 34(3), 315-327. doi: 10.1080/01411920701532202
Cheryan, S., Plaut, V. C., Davies, P. G., & Steele, C. M. (2009). Ambient belonging: How stereotypical cues impact gender participation in computer science. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(6), 1045-1060. doi: 10.1037/a0016239
Cipkova, E., Karolcik, S., Dudova, N., & Nagyova, S. (2018). What is the studetns’ interest in biology after the biology curriculum modification? The Curriculum Journal, 29(3), 370-386.
Colette, A., Marjolaine, C. (2017). Perception by French students of the gendered nature of material artifacts studied in technology education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 27, 1-18.
College Board. (2019). National Report. Retrieved 3/18/20 from https://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/participation/ap-2019
Cvencek, D., Meltzoff, A. N., & Greenwald, A. G. (2011). Math-gender stereotypes in elementary school children. Child Development, 82(3), 766-779. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01529.x
Dawson, C. (2000). Upper primary boys’ and girls’ interests in science: Have they changed since 1980? International Journal of Science Education, 22(6), 557-570.
del Rio, M. F., & Strasser, K. (2013). Preschool children’s beliefs about gender differences in academic skills. Sex Roles, 68. 231-238. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0195-6
Desy, E. A., Peterson, S. A., & Brockman, V. (2011). Gender differences in science-related attitudes and interests among middle school and high school students. Science Educator, 20(2), 23-30.
Economist.com (2015). The economist explains why girls do better at school than boys. Retrieved 3/18/20 from http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/03/economist-explains-3
Eddy, S. L., Brownell, S. E., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2017). Gender gaps in achievement and participation in multiple introductory biology classrooms. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 13(3), 478-493.
Farenga, S. J., & Joyce, B. A. (1999). Intentions of young students to enroll in science courses in the future: An examination of gender differences. Science Education, 83(1), 55-75. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1098-237X(199901)83:1<55::AID-SCE3>3.0.CO;2-O
Gnaulati, E. (2014). Why girls tend to get better grades than boys do. The Atlantic, retrieved 3/18/20 from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/09/why-girls-get-better-grades-than-boys-do/380318/.
Gottfredson, L. S. (1981). Circumscription and compromise: A developmental theory of occupational aspirations. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 28, 545-579.
Hall, R. M., & Sandler, B. R. (1982). The classroom climate: A chilly one for women? Washington, DC: Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges.
Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist 41(2), 111-127
Hong, J. L., Shim, K. C., & Chang, N. K. (1998). A study of Korean middle school students’ interests in biology and their implications for biology education. International Journal of Science Education, 20(8), 989–999.
Jensen, E. (2014). Evaluating children’s conservation biology learning at the zoo. Conservation Biology, 28(4), 1004-1011. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12263
Jones, M. G., Howe, A., & Rua, M. J. (2000). Gender differences in students’ experiences, interests, and attitudes toward science and scientists. Science Education, 84(2), 180-192. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1098-237X(200003)84:2<180::AID-SCE3>3.0.CO;2-X
Kahveci, A. (2010). Quantitative analysis of science and chemistry textbooks for indicators of reform: A complementary perspective. International Journal of Science Education 32(11), 1495-1519
Kessels, U. (2005). Fitting into the stereotype: How gender-stereotyped perceptions of prototypic peers relate to liking for school subjects. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 20, 309-323.
Klebanov, P.K., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Duncan, G.J. (1994) Does neighborhood and family poverty affect mothers’ parenting, mental health, and social support? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56, 441-455.
Koul, R., Lerdpornkulrat, T., & Chantara, S. (2011). Relationship between career aspirations and measures of motivation toward biology and physics, and the influence of gender. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20, 761-770. doi: 10.1007/s10956-010-9269-9
Kurtz-Costes, B., Copping, K. E., Rowley, S. J., & Kinlaw, C. R. (2014). Gender and age differences in awareness and endorsement of gender stereotypes about academic abilities. European Journal of Psychol Educ, 29, 603-618.
Leibham, M. B., Alexander, J. M., & Johnson, K. E. (2013). Science interests in preschool boys and girls: relations to later self-concept and science achievement. Science Education, 97(4), 574-593.
Lockwood, P. (2006). “Someone like me can be successful”: Do college students need same-gender role models? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 36-46.
Mavrikaki, E., Koumparou, H., Kyriakoudi, M., Papacharalampous, I., &Trimandili, M. (2012). Greek secondary school students’ views about biology. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 7(2), 217-232.
Mıhladız, G., Duran, M., & Dogan, A. (2011). Examining primary school students’ attitudes towards science in terms of gender, class level and income level. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 25, 2582-2588. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.04.150
Moè, A., & Pazzaglia, F. (2006). Following the instructions! Effects of gender beliefs in mental rotation. Learning and Individual Differences, 16, 369-377. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2007.01.002
NAEP, National Assessment of Educational Progress. (2019). Retrieved 3/18/20 from https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/mathematics/nation/groups/?grade=4
Neuburger, S., Jansen, P., Heil, M., & Quaiser-Pohl, C. (2012). A threat in the classroom: Gender stereotype activation and mental-rotation performance in elementary-school children. Zeitschrift fur Psychologie, 220(2), 61-69. http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/2151-2604/a000097
NGSS, Next generation science standards. (2015). Retrieved 4/5/19 from http://www.nextgenscience.org/
Nosek, B. A., Smyth, F. L., Sriram, N., Lindner, N. M., Devos, T., Ayala, A. . . . Greenwald, A. G. (2009). Steele, C.M. (Ed.). National differences in gender-science stereotypes predict national sex differences in science and math achievement. PNAS, 106(26), 10593-10597. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0809921106
NSB, National Science Board. (2010). Science and engineering indicators (National Science Foundation Report, 10-01). Retrieved 4/5/19 from https://nsf.gov/statistics/seind/
NSF, National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, Arlington, VA: (2019). Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: NSF Retrieved 3/18/20 from https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19304/
NSF, National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators (2018). Retrieved 3/18/20 from https://nsf.gov/statistics/2018/nsb20181/
PISA, OECD (2019). Programme for International Student Assessment. Retrieved 3/18/20 from https://www.oecd.org/pisa/PISA%202018%20Insights%20and%20Interpretations%20FINAL%20PDF.pdf
Provasnik, S., Kastberg, D., Ferraro, D., Lemanski, N., Roey, S., & Jenkins, F. (2012). Highlights From TIMSS 2011: Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Fourth- and Eighth-Grade Students in an International Context: NCES 2013-009. National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.
Randler, C., Osti, J., & Hummel, E. (2012). Decline in interest in biology among elementary school pupils during a generation. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology, 8(3), 201-205. doi: 10.12973/eurasia.2012.8325a
Renninger, K. A. (2000). Individual interest and its implications for understanding intrinsic motivation. In C. Sansone & J. M. Harackiewicz (Eds.), Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: The search for optimal motivation and performance (pp. 375-407). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Riddell, S. (1989). Pupils, resistance and gender codes: A study of classroom encounters. Gender and Education, 1(2), 183-197.
Robelen, E. W. (2012). STEM gender gap pronounced in U.S. Education Week, 31(36), 8-9.
Shakeshaft, C. (1995). Reforming science education to include girls. Theory into Practice, 34(1), 74-79.
Trice, A. D. (1991). A retrospective study of career development: 1. Relationship among first aspirations, parental occupations, and current occupations. Psychological Reports, 68, 287-290.
Trice, A. D., & McClellan, N. (1993). Do children’s career aspirations predict adult occupations? An answer from a secondary analysis of a longitudinal study. Psychological Reports, 72, 368-370.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Watson, M., & McMahon, M. (2005). Children’s career development: A research review from a learning perspective. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67, 119-132.
World science report-UNESCO (1996). The gender dimension of science and technology. Retrieved September 19, 2019 from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/science-technology/prospective-studies/unesco-science-report/world-science-report-1996/