‘Girls perform better in single-sex classes’

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A UNIVERSITY of Portsmouth student has called on lecturers to be more aware of their student make-up following research that shows girls in mixed classes perform worse in exams.

Becky Gardner, 20, who is reading childhood and youth studies, agrees with the University of Essex findings that single-sex classes for girls led to better exam scores.

The study revealed a major part of that improvement was linked to attendance – as female students were more likely to turn up to all-girl classes.

On average, girls in single-sex groups attended 71 per cent of classes, while girls in mixed groups attended just 63 per cent.

Boys’ performance on the other hand was the same irrespective of what class they were in.

Becky, who is her student union’s women officer, said: ‘Girls are less likely to speak in class unless they know they have the right answer, but boys don’t worry about making mistakes.

‘Some people learn very well through talking in class but girls don’t always get the opportunity to do so.

‘There is also the issue that if you don’t contribute to class your confidence and motivation drops, which is what is happening for many girls.

‘I don’t think we need single-sex classes at university level, because life and work are mixed environments, but I do think lecturers should pay closer attention to how their students learn to make sure no one is missing out.’

The research was carried out on 800 first-year economics students who were divided into three groups – all-girls, all-boys and mixed.

However, it also revealed single-sex lessons had no significant effect on girls’ coursework marks.