K-12 Single-Sex Education: What Does the Research Say? (page 3)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Jul 26, 2007


Studies of attitudinal variables yielded some consistent findings, including differences in specific domains of self- concept between girls in single- and mixed-sex schools (but no overall differences), and findings that support the view that single-sex contexts foster less stereotypical views of subjects. Studies also concur that students perceive single-sex school environments to be more orderly. 

Studies finding positive achievement effects attributable to school type tend to view their findings as specific to certain contexts and group characteristics (including socioeconomic status). Some studies recognize that some single-sex schools are "doing something different" that may be reproducible in the coeducational context. These studies view policy and training interventions as particularly valuable. 

Other studies have not claimed positive achievement effects for single-sex programs. Although research finds that girls view the single-sex classroom as more conducive to learning, research fails to confirm significant gain in girls' math and science achievement in the single-sex classroom. 

Finally, the research, while inconsistent in its assessments of whether single-sex education is "better" than coeducation for girls, does reveal areas of consensus on specific indicators, which may serve as starting points for further research into how single-sex schools affect educational outcomes. 

This Digest was adapted from: Haag, Pamela. (1998). Single-sex education in grades K-12: What does the research tell us? In American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, Separated by sex: A critical look at single-sex education for girls. Washington, DC: Author. 

For More Information

Brutsaert, H., & Bracke, P. (1994). Gender context of the elementary school: Sex differences in affecting outcomes. EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 20(1), 3-11. EJ 492 031. 

Cairns, E. (1990). The relationship between adolescent perceived self-competence and attendance at single-sex secondary school. BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, 60, 210. 

Colley, A., Comber, C., & Hargreaves, D. J. (1994). School subject preferences of pupils in single-sex and co-educational secondary schools. EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 20(3), 379-385. EJ 507 527. 

Granleese, J., & Joseph, S. (1993). Self-perception profile of adolescent girls at a single-sex and a mixed-sex school. JOURNAL OF GENETIC PSYCHOLOGY, 60, 210. 

Harker, R., & Nash, R. (1997, March). SCHOOL TYPE AND EDUCATION OF GIRLS: CO-ED OR GIRLS ONLY? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago. ED 410 633. 

Leder, G. C., & Forgasz, H. J. (1994, April). SINGLE-SEX MATHEMATICS CLASSES IN A CO-EDUCATIONAL SETTING: A CASE STUDY. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans. ED 372 946. 

Lee, V. E., & Lockheed, M. M. (1990). The effects of single-sex schooling on achievement and attitudes in Nigeria. COMPARATIVE EDUCATIONAL REVIEW, 34(2), 209-231. EJ 412 239. 

Lee, V. E., & Marks, H. M. (1990). Sustained effects of the single-sex secondary school experience on attitudes, behaviors, and sex differences. JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, 82(3), 588. 

LePore, P. C., & Warren, J. R. (1997). A comparison of single-sex and coeducational Catholic secondary schooling: Evidence from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988. AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL, 34(3), 485-511. EJ 551 431. 

Mallam, W. A. (1993). Impact of school-type and sex of the teacher on female students' attitudes toward mathematics in Nigerian secondary schools. EDUCATIONAL STUDIES IN MATHEMATICS, 24(2), 223-229. EJ 476 667. 

Riordan, C. (1990). Single gender schools: Outcomes for African and Hispanic Americans. In RESEARCH IN THE SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION AND SOCIALIZATION (Vol. 18, pp. 177-205). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. 

Smith, I. D. (1996, August). THE IMPACT OF COEDUCATIONAL SCHOOLING ON STUDENT SELF-CONCEPT AND ACHIEVEMENT. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Quebec. ED 400 090.

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