Saturday, March 3, 2012

Girl's verbal skills make them better at math study

A study published in the journal Psychological Science  suggests that the learning of mathematical concepts or mathematical terms is very important in learning math. The misconception about girls and boys learning math is that girls are less proficient in math than boys because of their verbal skills. In fact it might happen that certain girls might not have the ability to reflect enough in order to apply their verbal skills in the understanding of math. Moreover it is false to state that boys are better than girls in math. Is this statement based on preconceptions or studies?. What studies ever prove that? Even if these studies might exist it would be limited because of the worldviews or perceptions of those who did them. It is also important to know that a study never proves something true at a very high percentage. It might happen that certain conditions produce such or such results and if those conditions change the results change also. It has been repeated over and over for eons that boys are better than girls in math. Is that certain conditions common to the human race everywhere in the planet make that to happen and if those conditions reverse boys and girls equally learn math or the girls learn better than boys. One of the conditions is that educators think that learning is a conditioning process. This conditioning is rather artificial than natural. In artificial conditioning also called operant conditioning the conditions are created to produce certain actions. you are forced to learn something because of the results that this learning might produce. You might get punished if you don't learn or you might be rewarded if you learn. In these conditions you never have a natural motivation to learn the subject. These conditions deprive the learner of the joy of learning. He is forced to learn because of the consequences of not learning that might happen. In this anxious situation it happens that learning doesn't occur fully. Several scenarios might happen. One doesn't understand anything. One learns some parts of the subject. One learns all the subject just to avoid the consequences and forgets what was learned later. It is also interesting to know that educators don't teach students how to learn and why they have to learn a subject. The importance of learning the terms or concepts  is necessary in any subject. The ability to represent mentally the concepts and to progress gradually in the process of learning is also important. It is quite evident that the girls mastering this process had the ability to perform better than boys in this study,

While boys generally do better than girls in science and math, some studies have found that girls do better in arithmetic. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that the advantage comes from girls’ superior verbal skills.
“People have always thought that males’ advantage is in math and spatial skills, and girls’ advantage is in language,” says Xinlin Zhou of Beijing Normal University, who cowrote the study with Wei Wei, Hao Lu, Hui Zhao, and Qi Dong of Beijing Normal University and Chuansheng Chen of the University of California-Irvine. “However, some parents and teachers in China say girls do arithmetic better than boys in primary school.”
Zhou and his colleagues did a series of tests with children ages 8 to 11 at 12 primary schools in and around Beijing. Indeed, girls outperformed boys in many math skills. They were better at arithmetic, including tasks like simple subtraction and complex multiplication. Girls were also better at numerosity comparison — making a quick estimate of which of two arrays had more dots in it. Girls outperformed boys at quickly recognizing the larger of two numbers and at completing a series of numbers (like “2 4 6 8″). Boys performed better at mentally rotating three-dimensional images.  
Girls were also better at judging whether two words rhymed, and Zhou and his colleagues think this is the key to their better math performance. “Arithmetic and even advanced math needs verbal processing,” Zhou says. Counting is verbal; the multiplication table is memorized verbally, and when people are doing multiple-digit calculations, they hold the intermediate results in their memory as words.
“Better language skills could lead to more efficient verbal processing in arithmetic,” Zhou says. He thinks it might be possible to use these results to help both boys and girls learn math better. Boys could use more help with verbal strategies for learning math terms, while girls might benefit from more practice with spatial skills.
I would add to the conclusion of this study that educators apply the three steps of the learning process: learning of terms, pictorial representation of concepts and step by step mastery of the elements to be learned. In this way verbal and spatial skills will be developed both in girls and boys. Then with certain variations in the mastery of these skills there will not be polarization of this set of skills by both genders.