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Gender differences in a middle school computer lab. Do girls choose group work more frequentyly than boys?

1 July 1998


This research looks at whether boys and girls in a middle school computer lab choose to work in groups or individually in a gender predictable fashion. Based on gender psychology, girls were predicted to choose to work in groups more frequently than boys. Statistical analysis of the data indicated that this is indeed the case, and that girls are twice as likely to choose group work as are boys. Sizeable percentages of both boys (21%) and girls (45%) chose to work in groups oftwo or three. The average group size was similar for both boys and girls (boys = 2.1, girls = 2.3). An interesting and unexpected finding of the research is that the percent of girls choosing to be in groups increases as more girls are present in the room. Conversely, when there are a small number of girls in the room, they are more likely to work individually. The implication of this is that increasing the number of girls in the computer room allows more of the girls to have an opportunity to work in their preferred style. Thus increasing the number of girls present will make all of the girls feel more comfortable and, possibly, increase the chances that an individual girl will choose to be in the computer lab. This "snowball" effect has implications for educators who want to increase the probability that girls will use computer facilities.


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