The gender differences in mathematics achievement in geometry using manipulatives based instruction

The United States is currently underperforming in mathematics and technology. Many studies have shown differences gender differences for specific learning styles and achievement in math. Other factors, such as math self-concept and societal stereotypes also effect male and female interest and progress in math learning. Additionally, studies have indicated that instructional strategies using manipulatives and targeting spatial ability have improved the math learning of both males and females, specifically in the elementary years. The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether students’ gender impacts their math achievement in a Geometry unit, when instruction is designed to tie concrete manipulatives tools to abstract math concepts. vi Sources of Data The research was conducted at a K-6 public school in a suburban area in Yolo County. The subjects included 32 fourth graders with diverse backgrounds from one classroom. The students consisted of 21 boys and 11 girls. All students were given the same instruction, practice and assessment during the Geometry unit. Instruction consisted of manipulatives-based strategies, including model building and manipulatives sorts where students identified and classified shapes based on their characteristics. All participants completed a pre-test, post-test, and post-post-test to analyze the mean growth differences for males and females. Conclusions Reached The data indicated that there was a significant difference in the mean growth for male and female students from the pre-test to post-test in their overall test scores. Male participants had a greater mean score growth for the pre-test to post-test in their composite score. An additional finding was also significant, indicating that females’ mean growth from post-test to post-post-test was greater for both the composite score and open-ended question portion of the test.