Melinda Smith-Woods

CECS 5610

February 9, 2001

Assignment #1-Summary of Research Article

Reference: Dorothy Valcarcel Craig. (2000). A League of their own: Gender practices among adolescents and teachers in a technology-enhanced learning environment. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 28 (4), 349-363.

Principle: This article outlines five group case studies consisting of students and teachers representing two city school systems, five county systems and one private school. The goal was to examine gender differences and the process of internet-assisted inquiry in a single-sex, technology-enhanced environment.

Design: The design was that of a two-week summer workshop in which researchers hoped to reveal interesting findings regarding student behavior while interacting with computers in a single-sex environment. The data was collected through the use of a field journal, transcripts and videotapes. Researchers went to each school daily and spoke with both students and teachers. These conversations were recorded in the filed journal.

Independent Variables: The independent variable in this study was gender.

Dependent Variables: The dependent variable in this study was to observe weather or not female students engaged in technology-enhanced activities in a single-sex environment as male students would.

Procedures: The teachers meet during the first week for a gender difference awareness-training workshop. During this time the teachers designed student inquiry project guidelines that incorporated math, science and the internet. During the second week of the project, teachers tested their material with 52 fifth through eighth grade female students. Researchers observed the interaction between students and teachers to answer the following questions:

  1. Will the attitudes of female students change if given the opportunity to work within an all-girl environment?
  2. How will female students behave in a technology-enhanced single-sex environment?
  3. After becoming aware of the gender differences and changes that take place during the fifth through eighth grade years, Will teachers utilize the awareness as well as available research to assist students as they pursue computer-assisted inquiry?
  4. What part do the current media play in contributing to the "gender-sorting" that appears to escalate during fifth through eighth grades?
  5. How will teachers react to the needs of the female student within the technology-enhanced all-female environment?
  6. What classroom implications and insights emerge from such a study that could assist classroom teachers in meeting the needs of this particular student population?
On the first day students were asked to complete a pre-session survey on their feelings towards math, science and teachers. They were also asked to list their top three career choices.

Results: The results based on the six questions were as follows:

  1. The attitudes towards math science and teachers did change. At the completion of the study, the female students felt that they were good at math, science and computer, and that their teachers did respect them.
  2. The female students behaved in much the same way as the male students would have. They sought assistance from each other and then a teacher if they were at a loss. They worked together I groups of three to complete their projects. The conversations that the girls had during the group activity were also similar to conversations that boys had.
  3. Most of the teachers failed to use the information gained during the gender difference awareness training.
  4. The aforementioned career choices served as a means to test media influence. The original results showed that the girls strived to be physicians, teachers, veterinarians, and astronauts. Only one wanted to be a movie star. They were later given another test in which all of the professions they selected had an image, woman in that career, placed with it. Surprisingly enough all 52 participants classified their three choices into only three categories: model, TV star or singer. Reiterating the fact that the media has a direct influence on how girls perceive their future career goals.
  5. The interesting outcome was that the teachers, regardless of computer knowledge, did not seam to be aware of the gender differenced in the classroom. They all insisted that they treated the female students just as they would the students in their own classroom. During the study the teachers were quickly divided into three categories:
    1. Dictator – These teachers told the students exactly what to do and when to do it.
    2. Inhibitors – These teachers did the project themselves.
    3. Risk-Takers – These teachers provided materials and answered questions, but left the students to complete their work on their own.
  6. Teacher's attitudes have a direct impact on female learners. Teachers, especially female teachers, need to be role models for these student helping them to excel in our classrooms and build their self esteem.

Comments: The reason this article caught my attention is that in my school, we are trying to figure out ways to get female students more involved in technology. Girls are not signing up for the technology classes and we feel that they are moving on to the high school with technology skills that are not strong enough. We want to find ways to encourage girls to enroll in technology courses.