Sex differences in intrinsic motivation for math learning

The present study investigates whether there are sex differences in academic intrinsic motivation for math learning in fourth through seventh graders. The subjects were middle class, black and white boys and girls, divided approximately evenly by sex and race at each grade level. The N’ s at each grade level were 77, 77, 67 and 39 for the seventh, sixth, fifth and fourth grades respectively. Academic intrinsic motivation for math learning was measured through the administration of the Children's Academic Intrinsic Motivation Inventory developed by Gottfried. The inventory was administered individually and orally, using a standard format by five adult examiners. Grade X Sex X Race MANOVA was conducted on each of the 26 inventory items. Significant main effects for sex were obtained on 27% of the items, P < .05. These differences predominantly showed that girls had greater intrinsic motivation for items measuring pleasure inherent in learning math, curiosity for math and effort. The educational implications of the results include making teachers and school counselors aware of the findings, implementing curriculum changes and providing positive role models in the area of math learning for both boys and girls.