Conclusion – Women and Mathematics: The Effect of Teaching Practices on Girls’ Mathematical Confidence

I have submitted my literature review to my advisor for the last time! Here in my last post I won’t go over my literature review in full detail since I’ve already done that in updates one, two, and three, but as a quick summary I looked into the effects of different mathematical pedagogies on female mathematical perceptions (e.g. confidence, interest, self-assessed ability). I split the review into three sections – unconscious pedagogy, formal pedagogy, and informal pedagogy. Unconscious pedagogy looked  at the underlying attributes of mathematics learning such as stereotype threat and teacher biases. Formal pedagogy addressed the happenings inside of a classroom such as collaboration versus individual work, cooperation versus competition, textbooks, assessments, and alternative methods of teaching such as online schooling and single-sex education. Informal pedagogy emphasized the effects of out-of-classroom influences such as parents, peers, mentors, school clubs, and summer camps. I combined work from many different researchers to find connections between these things and how they combine to create certain effects on female mathematical perceptions.

As this was my first time completing research of any kind, I can say that it has been a wonderful first experience. From reading articles on my topic, to traveling to Nashville for a mathematics education conference, to putting it altogether in the end to create a final work, I have enjoyed the many steps of the process and have had a very encouraging advisor to mentor me along the way. In the conclusion of my review, I address possibilities for additional research. As most of the research I discovered focused on K-12 education, I would be interested in finding out more about the affects of certain pedagogical practices at the tertiary level.  Even if the percentage of female math majors has overall increased, in the last decade we are starting to see a decline and the retention rate for math majors overall is not the best. What kinds of practices could be implemented into a tertiary school setting to further communicate mathematics as relatable and interesting? The goal is to find a mathmatics pedagogy that is gender-inclusive, but this shouldn’t be only focused on K-12 but should span through all levels of schooling.

And with that my blogging is complete and I look forward to presenting my research sometime this Fall!

Comments

  1. I just want to say that I’m really impressed with your project! You explored a lot of factors that are often overlooked when studying how schooling influences girls’ interests and confidence in mathematics. I thought the research you did looking into how their friends’ interests affected their own was particularly unique! I believe researchers often forget that people other than professors and parents can also greatly affect how a student’s interests and passions develop. I know this has been true in my own life, and I’m excited to see research that is beginning to take into account the importance friendships have on the direction of our lives.

  2. jtloughton says:

    The breadth of your literature review is extremely impressive! I particularly found your take on unconscious pedagogy interesting as it seems like it would lead into discussions (and improvements!) on not only gender bias but other forms of invisible and unconscious bias (race, class, ability, etc.). I agree that teaching education staff of all genders about the unconscious biases they may be socialized into could seriously improve the subtle and often unaddressed damages to women’s confidence in STEM field participation. I am also pleasantly surprised at the amount of research into these questions that already exists! I hope that education scholars and future teachers think like you do, I think it would/will make the world a better place.

  3. As someone who struggled with math throughout childhood (I even had nightmares about math), your posts have been extremely fascinating to read about. It was not until middle school, when I had my first female math teacher, that I realized I actually enjoyed learning math.
    Can you provide any historical context on the development of this gender bias? Thanks!