Girls gain confidence in IT in single-sex classes: four-year trial shows ‘very positive outcomes’

29 April 2015

An article in The Conversation by academics from Monash University and Latrobe University, ‘Girls gain confidence with IT when boys aren’t around’, has highlighted the benefits to girls from learning in single-sex classes. Professors Julie Fisher, Catherine Lang and Helen Forgasz developed a one-semester teaching program designed to interest girls in IT and improve their confidence. The elective program for 14-16 year old girls ran for four years in seven co-educational and three girls-only schools. Data was collected from surveys and focus groups but girls and teachers were not specifically asked about the all-girl environment. The researchers noted, however, that 45% of the girls made an unprompted positive comment regarding their experiences in the single-sex classes. Girls commented that:

  • the classroom atmosphere was more conducive to learning without boys because boys disrupt classes
  • they were more willing to ask for help because boys weren’t there
  • their confidence grew and they weren’t afraid to try things out
  • in co-ed classes, boys put them down when they are trying to do something or express an idea

Teachers, including five teachers at the co-educational schools, also made unprompted positive comments about the girl-only classes, stating that:

  • they didn’t have deal with as many behavioural issues
  • they were able to spend more time with the girls and extend their knowledge and skills
  • they could focus more on what engaged the girls

The researchers concluded that “an all-girl environment had very positive outcomes” and that “an exciting curriculum designed around girls’ interests taught in an all-girl environment can improve the confidence of girls with IT and change their perception of IT”.

View The Conversation article here