An investigation into the relationship between girls and boys' self concept and performance in mathematics and science

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Munsaka, Ecloss
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The purpose of this study was first to investigate whether male students had a higher self concept than female students in mathematics and science. Secondly, to establish whether there was a positive correlation between self-concept and performance.A sample size of 114 students ( 56 females and 58 males ) from four selected coeducational secondary schools in Lusaka city namely; Munali, Kamwala, David Kaunda and Libala was used in the study.To measure self concept, two questionnaires were designed: one for the self rating of self concept by the students and the other for the teacher rating of the students' self concept in mathematics, physics and chemistry. Each of these questionnaires contained five items which sought to measure the current performance of the student in the subject, the student's past perfonnance in the subject, the amount of effort that the student applied in the subject, the reaction of the student when confronted with questions in the subject and the amount of interest of the student in the subject. These were answered using the 1 to 7 likert-type scales which were also the basis for scoring. As a way of gauging performance, tests were set in mathematics, physics and chemistry. Each of the tests had twenty questions which were converted to percentages.The procedure followed in administering the instruments was; first, subject teachers in all the three subjects; mathematics, physics and chemistry, administered the tests that were set to gauge the perfonnance of the students. Subject teachers were used to administer the tests in order to make the students apply themselves in full without them thinking the tests were just for research. Shortly after the tests were written, the researcher with the help of the subject teachers administered the self rating questionnaires to the students. Subject teachers also filled out the students' rating questionnaires after the subjects were written. The marking of the tests was done by the teachers who had set the tests to avoid disparities in scoring. As a basis for testing the first hypothesis namely; boys have a higher self concept than girls in mathematics and science, the chi - square test was used. The second hypothesis namely; there is a positive correlation between self concept and performance, was tested using the product- moment correlation test.In view of the low self concept that girls were found to have in mathematics and physics and the positive correlation that was found between self concept and performance in mathematics, physics and chemistry, the following recommendations were made to the ministry of education in order to try and improve the self concept of girls and consequently performance in these subjects: a. Teachers should from as early as pre- school, start instilling some positive attitudes in the girls towards mathematics and science subjects so that right from the outset, girls develop positive self concept in these stereotypically "masculine subjects". Positive attitudes can be developed through teachers telling girls as areas including mathematics and science.Allocation of science subjects to students in schools should not show any biasness towards the male students- as many female students as males should be allowed to take up science subjects. By giving female students a chance to do science subjects on an equal footing with the male students, chances of producing more female science teachers who would act as role models to female students in schools would be enhanced.There should be a deliberate policy by the ministry of education to encourage schools to as often as possible invite adult females who have been successful in the fields of science and mathematics to inspire female students and act as role models.In the case of single sex schools, there should be uniformity in subject combinations in male and female schools. For example, girls' schools should offer pure sciences ( physics and chemistry ) as much as boys' schools do. This would remove the stereotypical notion that females are not well endowed in pure sciences.Home environments where boys and girls are growing together should be such that no discriminatory remarks which lead girls to believe that girls are inferior t boys are uttered since this does not just have an effect on the formation of general self concept but academic self concept as well.
Educational Analysis , Gender education assessment