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A Longitudinal Study of Gender and Mathematics Using ECLS-K Data

Year: 2008
Name of Institution:
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Goal: Exploration
Principal Investigator:
Lubienski, Sarah
Award Amount: $314,367
Award Period: 2 years
Award Number: R305A080147

Description:

Purpose: Females continue to be under-represented in mathematics-related fields. Gender gaps in school mathematics performance lay the foundation for these career path differences. Although such gaps were originally thought to appear in secondary school, mathematics achievement gaps are now surfacing in early elementary school, raising new questions about the sources of these gaps. This study will provide a detailed examination of factors that predict gender differences in elementary school mathematics performance. This research will shed light on ways in which boys' and girls' early experiences differ at both school and home, and will determine which of those differences relate to gender disparities in grades K–5 mathematics achievement.

Project: The project is broken into four sub-studies. In the first study, the home experiences, classroom experiences, and attitudes toward mathematics of boys and girls are compared. The second and third studies focus on the relationship between students’ experiences and gender gaps in kindergarten mathematics achievement, as well as in describing any changes of those gaps from kindergarten through fifth grade. In the final study, relationships among girls’ and boys’ attitudes toward mathematics, experiences, and achievement, are examined. Teacher-reported survey data regarding classroom practices and teacher assessments of students are used as predictors, along with parent survey data regarding children’s early home experiences. Throughout the study, interactions among gender, race/ethnicity and socio-economic status are examined.

Products: The expected outcomes of this research include published reports on the identification of factors that predict gender differences in elementary school mathematics performance.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 (ECLS-K).

Population: ECLS-K includes a nationally representative sample of 22,000 students from over 1,000 schools. These students began kindergarten in 1998 and were followed longitudinally. This study will use data collected during the students’ kindergarten, first-, third-, and fifth-grade years, including information collected from students and their parents and teachers.

Research Design and Methods: The project is broken into four sub-studies. In the first study, students’ home experiences, classroom experiences, and attitudes toward mathematics are compared by gender. The second and third studies focus on the relationship between students’ experiences and gender gaps in kindergarten mathematics achievement, as well as in the growth of those gaps from kindergarten through fifth grade. In the final study, relationships among girls’ and boys’ attitudes toward mathematics, experiences, and achievement, are examined. Teacher-reported survey data regarding classroom practices and their own assessments of students are used as predictors, along with parent survey data regarding children’s early home experiences. Throughout the study, interactions among gender, race/ethnicity and socio-economic status are examined.

Key Measures: The ECLS-K standardized T-scores for mathematics will serve as the primary achievement measure.

Data Analytic Strategy: Initial comparisons of boys’ and girls’ experiences and attitudes will be conducted via logistic regression, with gender as the outcome. A series of regression models will examine the extent to which differences in boys’ and girls’ home experiences account for gender disparities in initial kindergarten achievement. A three-level hierarchical model (with time nested within students nested within teachers) will examine student growth over time, determining which classroom level and home factors account for gender disparities in mathematics growth between kindergarten and grade 5. Finally, a series of two-level hierarchical models (with students nested within teachers) will examine relationships among student experiences, their attitudes toward mathematics, and gender gaps in mathematics achievement gains.

Publications from this project:

Lubienski, S. T. (2012). Commentary on the Chapter by Gabriele Kaiser, Maren Hoffstall and Anna B. Orschulik,“Gender Role Stereotypes in the Perception of Mathematics—Results of an Empirical Study with Secondary Students in Germany”. InTowards Equity in Mathematics Education (pp. 141–144). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Lubienski, S.T., Robinson, J.P., Crane, C.C., and Ganley, C.M. (2013). Girls' and Boys' Mathematics Achievement, Affect, and Experiences: Findings from ECLS-K.Journal for Research in Mathematics Education,44 (4), 634–645.

Robinson, J.P., and Lubienski, S.T. (2010). The Development of Gender Gaps in Mathematics and Reading Achievement Gaps: Exploring Direct Cognitive Assessments and Teacher Ratings. American Educational Research Journal. 42(2): 268–302.