The Effect of Gender on Number of AP Classes Taken
Lab Report by Mayuri Raja, Devia Joshi, and Snehita Bonthu Period 2 Biology
C. Type of Experiment
D. Parts of the Experiment
Independent Variable: gender
Control Group: N/A
Experimental Groups: males who are taking AP classes and females who are taking AP classes
Factors Held Constant: The number of AP classes available to all of the students surveyed was kept constant in order to ensure that the number of AP classes taken was a direct result of internal motivation rather than because there were no AP classes available.
A. Data Table
B. Bar Graphs
Despite the fact that the manipulated data suggested that males took more AP classes on average than females, statistical analysis proved that gender did not have a significant effect on the number of AP classes taken. The mean data for both sets of data-- number of AP classes taken by males and number of AP classes taken by females-- shows that males took more AP classes on average; males took an average of 4.5 AP classes, whereas females took an average of 3.9 AP classes. However, conducting a t-test returned a P value of approximately 0.2. Since this value is greater than 0.05, the null hypothesis-- that gender does not have an effect on number of AP classes taken-- cannot be fully rejected. In fact, the null hypothesis has a 20% chance of being true, which means that gender did not have a significant effect on number of AP classes taken. Furthermore, a graph of the average number of AP classes taken for both genders supports this conclusion, as the error bars showing 2 standard errors of the mean overlap significantly. This overlap proves that the true means for both data sets are very likely to be close together, which means the data did not significantly affect the mean number of AP classes taken. Thus, it can be stated with certainty that gender did not have a significant effect on the number of AP classes taken.
This lack of definitive evidence supporting the original hypothesis is corroborated with the mounds of conflicting research that exist on the topic. Of the four sources examined, two are adamant that boys are less academically successful, whereas the other two have numerical proof suggesting that boys and girls are equally likely to succeed or fail in the academic sphere. In a similar study at Wayland High School, the total number of students taking each course was added up, counting students multiple times if they were taking multiple classes. The results showed that only 17 more males were taking AP classes than females, reflecting that there was not a significant difference between the number of males and females (Park). However, a survey of educational data done in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education shows that females have a higher enrollment in AP classes than males do overall, although males are 5% more likely to pass any AP exams they take (“Gender Equity in Education: A Data Snapshot”). Furthermore, other studies suggest that boys are 50% more likely to perform poorer in math, reading, and science than girls are and to have poorer academic achievement (Bidwell). One would think that if girls were higher achieving academically, they would invest more in their studies and take more AP classes. Thus, even among established research, it’s disputed whether or not boys or girls are more likely to take AP classes. For now, the data suggests that gender does not have an effect on the number of AP classes a student decides to take.
V. Sources of Error and Inaccuracies
Additionally, the experimental design was not flawless; it was not taken into account what grade each of the surveyed students was in. This was a fatal mistake, as students from each of the different grades have limits as to how many AP classes they can take. As a result, outliers such as female sophomores taking only two or three AP classes and senior girls taking seven classes skewed the data in both directions. To produce more reliable data, students of one grade level, preferably juniors, since they take the most AP classes, would need to be interviewed. This way, all of the students surveyed truly have the same number of AP classes available to them.
As far as sources of error go, there were none. This experiment was a simple survey with very little room for error in the execution of the procedure or in the calculations themselves. All inaccuracies in the data can be attributed to poor experimental design and small sample size.
Bidwell, Allie. “Boys More Likely Than Girls to Underperform Academically.” U.S. News.
U.S. News, 5 March 2015. Web. 3 September 2015. <http://www.usnews.com
“Gender Equity in Education: A Data Snapshot.” U.S. Department of Education. U.S.
Department of Education, June 2012. Web. 3 September 2015. <http://www2.ed.gov
Park, Angela. “Exploring gender differences within AP classes.” Wayland Student Press
Network. Wayland High School, 7 November 2014. Web. 3 September 2014.
“Why girls do better at school than boys.” The Economist. The Economist, 5 March 2015.
Web. 3 September 2015. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains