Research versus the media: Mixed or single-gender settings?

Year: 2007

Author: Forgasz, Helen, Taylor, Calvin, Leder, Gilah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper we compare scholarly research and media coverage of the benefits and disadvantages for students of learning in mixed or single gender settings. This topic continues to attract the attention of researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and the community at large. The more measured tones of scholarly work can be contrasted with the often heated and emotive voices of the popular media - print, radio, and television. Our examination of relevant articles and reports over the last decade confirms that the focus, however, has changed from concerns about girls' educational needs to those of boys, particularly in the popular media. Even when educational researchers had devised studies incorporating many inter-related factors that can influence educational outcomes, media commentators, with few exceptions, tended to simplify the issues or ignore completely the complexity of the issues involved. Media consumers, without access to the details of the original research studies, would be left with the impression that there are simplistic solutions. A consistent finding in the research literature of the crucial role played by teachers was frequently overlooked in media reports, thus fuelling the impression that gendered setting of schools or classrooms per se can "fix" perceived inadequacies in the educational system.