Update #3: Women and Mathematics: The Effect of Teaching Practices on Girls’ Mathematical Confidence

As summer has now passed and I’m back at the College I can successfully say my research is complete! Since update #2 I’ve written and edited the remainder of my literature review. The last section I had to complete was informal pedagogy – focusing on how people and activities outside of the classroom affect female mathematical perceptions.

I began the section with the influences from different people. As may be expected, parents have a very strong influence in their daughter’s mathematical perceptions. Parents tend to see their sons as more mathematically gifted and thus are more likely to purchase and participate in math activities with them more than their daughters. Such mathematics-promoting behavior has shown to be statistically significant in later math achievement. Parents who also have higher levels of math anxiety tend to over-help daughters complete math homework and subconsciously pass on their math anxiety. Friends also play a role in female mathematical perceptions. Female students who have friends (especially female) who participate in advanced math courses are more likely to take a greater number of advances mathematics courses as well (though this relation was not seen in male students). Mentors are also important as they can reduce the effects of gender stereotypes and portray mathematics as more applicable to a female students life and career.

I also addressed the effects of extracurricular activities on female mathematical perceptions. Not surprisingly, it turns out that female students who participate in extracurricular STEM activities report higher levels of mathematics confidence and interest. Additional math-related activities such as weekend programs or summer camps are also beneficial in showcasing mathematics as interesting and especially as a potential career. Students who participate in extracurricular activities overall skip class less, are more likely to obtain a higher degree after high school, and have higher GPA’s than those who do not- focused specifically in mathematics, extracurricular activities benefit a student in those ways and additionally in mathematical achievement.

As this wraps up the details of the last section of my literature review, I’ll focus my last post on an overall summary and where I hope to go from here.