And here I was

Thinking that mathematical equations and problems had only one right answer and everything else was incorrect. Now someone comes along to tell me that there is a problem with my theory.

Teachers Give Girls Better Grades on Math Tests When They Don’t Know They Are Girls

Beginning in 2002, the researchers studied three groups of Israeli students from sixth grade through the end of high school. The students were given two exams, one graded by outsiders who did not know their identities and another by teachers who knew their names.

In math, the girls outscored the boys in the exam graded anonymously, but the boys outscored the girls when graded by teachers who knew their names. The effect was not the same for tests on other subjects, like English and Hebrew. The researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls’, and that this had long-term effects on students’ attitudes toward the subjects.

If 4+4=8 no matter where or when, then how do teachers score an exam differently if they know the gender of the student?

I’ve never seen a problem with an answer of “Patriarchy”, so I’m wondering how this would happen? Rolf, you got any idea?

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3 Responses to And here I was

  1. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    My guess is the tests in question are not multiple guess, so girls are probably getting dinged on “show your work” points.

  2. Rolf says:

    Easy. A lot of math tests at the 6th grade level are not graded simply on the correct answer, but with partial credit for showing work, including units or writing the answer in a complete sentence (such as “Fred has a total of eight ducks”), drawing a picture of how you’d approach it, or explaining your thought process.

    Because at that age girls are typically much better at verbal language, and often have better writing skills as well as a greater ability to follow arbitrary directions, they pick up more partial credit. Boys read the question, know the sum totals to eight, and write “8,” but might only get one point for the answer and lose the three points for the rest of the crap. My son does this all the time, and it frustrates the bejesus out of him. His official scores are “below standard” even though he’s getting greater than 80% of the sums and products correct.

    When a teacher knows they are grading a boy’s test, they are likely to give them more of the benefit of a doubt, knowing they typically have worse writing/language skills, thus improving their scores, or conversely grade more harshly the girl’s tests knowing they “can do better.” Not saying it’s right or wrong, just that it’s understandable.

    Ironic note – I just got a long term subbing job (likely until the end of the school year) teaching sixth grade math and science, and I spent part of the weekend trying to grade a science class investigation write-up. Let’s just say it turned out to be more challenging than I thought it would be.

  3. AM says:

    Two tests, two sets of graders, and people are shocked at a different outcome? I tried to get to the original study but I’m not going to pay 5 bucks for it.

    A properly designed double blind study would have a very large pool of test subjects, and more than just two tests, and more than just “know name/don’t know name” testing methodology. As it stands here, this is a classic example of, “huh, that’s interesting, we should do some better research before holding a press release.”

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