Does gender effect grades?

Harshita Dandu and Lindsey Shaw

Question

Does gender effect final grade averages in English of second semester of Junior year?

Hypothesis

If level of classes are taken in to consideration, then, at the end of the second semester of Junior year, females will have a higher grade average in English than males.

Comparative Investigation

Parts of the Experiment

In the experiment conducted, the independent variable was the gender of the senior being surveyed, while the dependent variable was a collection of the final grade received at the end of Junior year in the English course taken. As this is a comparative investigation, there is no control group; but, the constant throughout the experiment was the course that the grades were collected from. Although the course level did vary, the collection of strictly English grades were kept constant and course level was taken in to account as to not skew any results.

Analysis

In comparing final English grades at the end of Junior year, females score higher in English class than males. A survey was constructed for seniors whom had already finished an English III class. This survey asked questions such as, "What is your gender?", "What level English III class did you complete?", and "What was your final grade in said English class at the end of junior year?". This survey was sent out to seniors of all backgrounds, races, and genders. The answers were recorded in a google spreadsheet and were further analyzed. 26 seniors answered the questionnaire, with 13 responses coming from females and the other 13 from males. When the data was analyzed, (as shown in the bar graphs and data tables above), females came out on top with a GPA of 4.15, while males had an average GPA of 4.08 in their Junior English class. In recent years, researchers have tried to determine the reason behind the lack of women in fields concerning math, science, etc. In 1995, only 22% of America’s scientists and engineers were women. Women who do pursue careers in science, engineering, and mathematics most often choose fields in the biological sciences, where they represent 40% of the workforce, with smaller percentages found in mathematics or computer science (33%), the physical sciences (22%), and engineering (9%) (National Science Board, 1998). The question we are trying to answer is; why do females tend to excel in terms of cognitive abilities compared to males? And, are these differences in intellectual strengths and weaknesses reflected in grades even in high school? Part of the explanation to these questions can be traced back as early as middle school. Studies show that, "in late elementary school, females outperform males on several verbal skills tasks: verbal reasoning, verbal fluency, comprehension, and understanding logical relations (Hedges & Nowell, 1995)", while males, "outperform females on spatial skills tasks such as mental rotation, spatial perception, and spatial visualization (Voyer, Voyer, & Bryden, 1995)." Although some may argue that this is a matter of preference, some researchers believe that, "prenatal hormones circulating in the brain encourage differential development in the hemispheres of male and female fetuses (Berenbaum, Korman, & Leveroni, 1995)." Taking all of this in to consideration, along with the data collected from our own survey, it is clear that there is a difference in level of performance, in terms of gender, when it comes to English grades.

Conclusion

At the beginning of of this experiment it was hypothesized that if levels of classes are taken into consideration, then at the end of second semester junior year females will have a higher grade average (GPA) than males in English III. The data we collected proved our hypothesis to be true; even though it wasn’t by much, females had a GPA of 4.15 while the males had an average of 4.08.

Sources of Inaccuracies/ Errors

As our investigation was comparative and not experimental, no direct treatment was inflicted on the independent variable, causing there to be many confounding factors that could have skewed the results of our investigation. For example, the survey conducted was strictly voluntary. Those who respond to voluntary surveys are usually those who are interested in school, learning, etc. Another factor that could have skewed results was the group that was surveyed. A large majority of the people surveyed were students from Harshita and my classes, which are upper level, AP classes. Those who take AP classes are more likely to be able to achieve higher grades. Another source of error that could have caused an inaccuracy in our results was the fact that many classes are taken different years for different students. Because of this factor, we were not able to compare math grades and English grades to fully conclude that girls preform better strictly when it comes to "cognitive" abilities. A last source of error in our experiment is the fact that we did not take teacher in to account when it came to grades received. In English last year, difficult of grading varied greatly within different course levels.

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