A cross -national investigation of gender differences in mean and variance of mathematics achievement of thirteen-year-old students from a social -psychological perspective

Aubrey Hui-Ju Wang, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Cross-national study of gender differences in mathematics achievement is necessary in establishing replicable patterns of important correlates of mathematics achievement across nations. Despite findings in the United States and in other nations that there are small differences in mean achievement between males and females, research has found that males tend to be more variable than females in their spread of mathematics achievement. In other words, males as compared to females tend to dominate the upper percentiles of the achievement distribution, beginning the unequal representation of males as compared to females in the mathematics and scientific fields. This dissertation investigated gender differences in mathematics achievement using a social-psychological perspective that included components of theories on motivation and social influences. National-level differences in mean and dispersion of mathematics achievement were established using nationally representative data from thirty-eight countries that participated at the Population 2 level of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Variables representing the social-psychological framework, such as students' interest in mathematics, students' value of mathematics achievement, students' use of time outside of school, and students' parental expectation were constructed from 198,699 thirteen-year-old students across thirty-one nations who responded to the TIMSS Student Background Questionnaire. After establishing the reliability and meaningfulness of these variables, relationships among gender, mathematics achievement, interest, value, time use, and mother's expectation were explored for each country using a loglinear variance model. Significant gender differences in mean mathematics achievement remained in nineteen countries after controlling for differences in motivation, mother's expectation, time use, and other family background variables. Significant gender differences in dispersion of mathematics achievement scores remained in nine countries after controlling for variations in motivation, mother's expectation, time use, and other family background variables. Implications of findings are discussed, directions for future research are recommended, and limitations of the study are noted. ^

Subject Area

Education, Mathematics|Women's Studies|Education, Educational Psychology

Recommended Citation

Aubrey Hui-Ju Wang, "A cross -national investigation of gender differences in mean and variance of mathematics achievement of thirteen-year-old students from a social -psychological perspective" (January 1, 2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3003703.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3003703

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