The results from research on gender differences in motivation and in achievement have changed in the past 20 years. In the early 1980s researchers began to find decreasing gender differences in achievement in mathematics and science, where previously females consistently had performed more poorly than males. A summary of some of the more than 600 programs funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1966 to 1982 showed real gains in helping women to excel in science and mathematics. Strong academic emphasis, multiple strategies, and systems approaches were common elements in the more effective programs. In particular, achievement in mathematics was nearly equal for males and females until the fifth grade, when females began falling behind. The gender differences became more pronounced in high school (Huetinck, 1990). An analysis of large numbers of students taking the state-mandated California Assessment Program exam, combined with observation research, prompted a hypothesis that girls did better than boys in elementary school as long as there were algorithms to follow in problem solving. When females reached higher-level courses, they were less able to try novel solutions, perhaps because they had internalized the rules so well that their creativity suffered (Marshall, 1984). Gender differences in mathematics achievement are declining, but they still are significant at the advanced mathematics course levels (American Association of University Women, 1992).
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