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Sex Differences in approaches to study in psychology undergraduates

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Title: Sex Differences in approaches to study in psychology undergraduates


1
Sex Differences in approaches to study in
psychology undergraduates
  • Paul Sander
  • Lalage Sanders
  • Jenny Mercer

2
Compulsory Education
  • Gender differences in compulsory education run
    though into Higher Education and are manifest in
    a number of ways
  • Frosh, Phoenix and Pattman, 2003
  • Rusillo and Arias, 2004
  • Skelton, 1998
  • Warrington and Younger, 2000

3
Gender distribution in UK HE
  • 2005 2006
  • http//www.hesa.ac.uk/holisdocs/pubinfo/student/su
    bject0506.htm

4
Academic Performance
  • UK, Full Time, First Degree
  • 2005-2006
  • http//www.hesa.ac.uk/holisdocs/pubinfo/student/su
    bject0506.htm

5
Academic Performance (UWIC)
  • In UWIC male undergraduates achieve on average an
    overall degree mark that is 2 lower than
    females,
  • on our psychology degree, there is no significant
    difference

6
Attendance
  • Male students are more likely to be absent and to
    under-report their absenteeism (Woodfield et al.,
    2006).

7
Why?
  • The difference in attendance rates may be
    explained by female students greater compliance
    to institutional requirements (c.f. Francis,
    Robson and Read, 2001).

8
Confidence
  • It has been argued that females generally lack
    academic confidence
  • Stables, 1995
  • Newstead, 2000
  • Leman, 2004
  • Robson, Francis and Read, 2004
  • Chantal Joffe
  • Blonde Girl, Black Dress
  • http//www.bbc.co.uk/arts/summerexhibition/images/
    icons/blond_girl_black_dress.jpg

9
Female students at university are more
  • preoccupied with failure rather than course
    content
  • adversely affected by workload pressure
  • anxiety about speaking in tutorials (Greasley,
    1998 Read, Archer and Leathwood, 2003), where
    women speak less and are interrupted more
    (Somners Lawrence, 1992 Sternglanz
    Lyberger-Ficek, 1997).

10
Male students are
  • more likely to rate their academic abilities
    higher than female students
  • less likely to be adversely affected by the
    transition into Higher Education,
  • perhaps, because male students are more
    self-centred and less attuned to social
    interaction issues
  • Jackson, 2003
  • see also Bornholt, Goodnow and Cooney, 1994

11
Why do Boys do better? (taken from Hartley,
Betts and Murray, 2007)
  • More able
  • Benefit from male sex bias in markers
  • Bolder writers
  • Risk takers
  • Confident
  • Less fear of failure
  • Less anxious
  • Greater learning flexibility
  • More role models

12
Why do Girls do better? (taken from Hartley,
Betts and Murray, 2007)
  • Better verbal skills
  • More committed to academic work
  • Better attendance
  • Greater cooperation in learning
  • More private study
  • Do better in course work (see above)
  • More likely to conform
  • Less likely to be distracted

13
Our Research
  • Design
  • An analytical survey and focus group interviews
    were used to collect both qualitative and
    quantitative data.
  • Participants
  • A first year psychology class (N137)
  • During Induction Week (N111)
  • Male students represented 25 of the cohort, (UK
    figure 21)

14
The quantitative element
15
Measures -Quantitative
  • Revised Study Process Questionnaire (Biggs,
    Kember, and Leung 2001),
  • Adult Dyslexia Checklist (Vinegrad 1994)
  • Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg 1965)
  • You and Your University Education to assess their
    priorities(Sander and Sanders, 2006)
  • Academic Behavioural Confidence (ABC)(Sander and
    Sanders, 2003, 2006, 2009)
  • Performance Expectation Ladder (PEL, expected
    average mark for self and for year group for
    first year and for final year. (Sander and
    Sanders, 2003)
  • Marks (performance measure) at level 1

16
Performance Expectation Ladder Males more
performance confident than females
Plt.0005
Plt.05
Level 1
Level 3
17
PEL Female
Male improvement over -
better than group time (self group)
Plt.0005
Plt.05
Plt.0005
Plt.005
Self
Group
Level 1 Level 3
18
Learning Style, Dyslexia and Self-esteem
Self-esteem plt.01
Self-esteem (brown) Deep (ns) (blue) Surface
(ns) (green) Dyslexia (ns) (mauve)
plt.0005
plt.0005
Female Male
19
ABC scales Trends but none significant
ns.
Blue Grades Green Verbalising Mauve
Attendance Brown - Studying
ns.
ns.
20
Assessment
  • Coursework aggregate
  • female gt male for plt.01
  • 16 individual assessment marks
  • females means were higher on 14.
  • 3 significant
  • Introduction to Psychology coursework (plt.05),
  • one Research Methods coursework (plt.001)
  • Statistics Examination (plt.05).

21
Performance ConfidencePEL - Post Hoc analysis
  • A twist in the Gender Story!
  • 16 students (15 females) equal to or less than
    the national average at both L1 and L3 on
    self-rated expectation of academic performance
  • Scored significantly lower
  • Verbalising (plt.05)
  • Grades (plt.001)
  • Factors product of student-teacher dyad (Sander
    Sanders, 2009)
  • self esteem (plt.01)
  • poor outcome at the end of level 1 6 with
    multiple fails or withdrawn
  • BUT no difference in average marks for completed
    work.

22
Blue Grades sig
Blue Deep ns Green Verbalising sig
Green Surface ns Mauve
Attendance nsBrown Studying ns
Brown Self Esteem sig
plt.01
plt.001
plt.05
plt.005
Less than Greater than
Less than Greater than to
NA NA
to NA NA
23
Whats the story?
  • Male expectations and self-perceptions are higher
    than those of the females
  • Male performance is not better overall, but is
    significantly worse on course work
  • Low performance confidence group (predominantly
    female) could be identified and helped

24
Gung Ho! Hypothesis (Sander and Sanders, 2003)
  • Males appear to be heading for a fall
  • what do they think is happening?

25
The qualitative element
26
Aims
  • To explore the experiences of males on an
    undergraduate psychology degree programme
  • To discover the ways in which male students
    negotiate the learning environment
  • To enhance and support the findings from the
    quantitative measures taken at the beginning of
    the research process

27
Method
  • Focus group interviews
  • 14 male participants
  • 4 interviews
  • Research credits awarded for taking part
  • 3 declined
  • 3 turned up at the wrong time
  • When those who had left course were considered
    this represented 64 of the cohort

28
Interview
  • Semi structured schedule used
  • Choice of degree and topic
  • Sex differences
  • Individual experiences
  • Non-academic aspects

29
Thematic analysis (Kvale 1996)
  • 3 preliminary themes
  • Advantages of doing a girls subject
  • Different ways of managing and organising study
  • Attendance and the importance of social life

30
Different ways of managing and organising study
  • It became evident that the male participants
    could readily identify ways in which the girls
    behaviour within a lecture and class room setting
    was different from theirs,
  • for instance

31
Different ways of managing and organising study
(1)
  • Group 3
  • but a look around the lectures and its like,
    cos you can print off your notes for the lectures
    on blackboard which I sort of I feel I have to do
    because I cant listen and write at the same time
    (laughter) I cant. I have to either listen or
    write and so Ill just sort of have the notes and
    listen, but when I look around um all the girls
    have like written everything and listening
  • Yeah thats true actually
  • But all the guys that Im sitting next to cant
    (laughter)
  • Yeah

32
Different ways of managing and organising study
(2)
  • I so what do you think this represents about
    girls?
  • Its weird. It happened all through school. They
    just seem to have a higher drive to, the
    motivation to work. Not necessarily smarter then
    boys but their drive to work and keep plugging
    away its so, its more in tune than boys. Boys
    tend to leave it til the last

33
Attendance
  • And then there was the boys take on their
    attendance

34
Attendance and the importance of a social life (1)
  • Group 1
  • I How well did you attend last term?
  • I wasnt, I wasnt as constructive with my time
    or um lectures or well my activities on the
    previous evening shall I say, it didnt suit me
    well for some days (laugh) so no Id say poorly
    if I was being honest

35
Attendance and the importance of a social life (2)
  • Group 4
  • well I see other people and think well Im a lot
    better off than him or her (laughed)
  • Yeah youre right. Some people I know Ive spoken
    to people who say oh Ive been here 6 weeks and
    I havent been into uni yet, its like, do you
    know what I mean? Im like ok
  • Downwards Comparisons better for self-esteem.

36
Attendance and the importance of a social life (3)
  • Group 2
  • I How important for you is the non academic
    aspect of being a university student? (e.g.
    social life, new friends, clubs
  • Uh about 40
  • I think it might be a little bit more than that
  • Oh actually
  • Thats your foundation like
  • If your not happy socially youre not going to do
    well
  • Its going to affect your life like

37
Attendance and the importance of a social life (4)
  • Group 3
  • Cos like some of my mates who have been to
    university say that the first year is like a
    proper like leary, you wont do any work and
    youll just get hammered, second year will be
    half half, third year, youll be a hermit, you
    wont go out (laughs)

38
Reflections
  • What does this indicate about the ways these
    males view their academic work?
  • Do they view themselves differently from the
    females?
  • Did you get any sense that they lacked confidence
    or were concerned about their performance at this
    stage of the course?

39
Further Reading
40
Hartley Reference
  • See original paper for full references for each
    of those explanations
  • Hartley J, Betts L and Murray M (2007). Gender
    and assessment Differences, similarities and
    implications. Psychology Teaching Review, 13, 1
    34-47

41
My references
  • Sander, P and Sanders, L. (2006). Rogue Males
    Sex differences in Psychology students. Journal
    of Research in Educational Psychology and
    Psychopedagogy. http//www.investigacion-psicopeda
    gogica.org/revista/articulos/8/english/Art_8_89.pd
    f
  • Sanders, L and Sander, P (2007) Rogue Male
    Undergraduates. The Psychologist 20(3) 169.
    http//www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_
    home.cfm?volumeID20editionID154ArticleID1161
  • Sander, P and Sanders, L. (2007). Gender,
    Psychology Students and Higher Education.
    Psychology Learning and Teaching, 6, 1, 33-36.
    http//www.psychology.heacademy.ac.uk/docs/pdf/p20
    070719_61_Sander_Sanders.pdf
  • Sanders, L, Sander, P and Mercer, J (under
    review) Rogue Males? Perceptions and Performance
    of Male Psychology Students. Studies in Higher
    Education. Paper from psander_at_uwic.ac.uk
  • Sander, P and Sanders, L (2009). Measuring
    Academic Behavioural Confidence The ABC Scale
    Revisited. Studies in Higher Education, 34, 1.
    Paper from psander_at_uwic.ac.uk

42
Unused Slides
43
Gender differences in UK HE
  • Are male and female students in equal proportions
    in
  • Psychology at UWIC?
  • Psychology in UK universities?
  • In UK Higher Education?

44
BPS
  • This gender ratio in psychology concerns the
    British Psychological Society (BPS) and as such,
    it is part of their Widening Access and
    Participation remit (Turpin, 2004).
  • Why do you think it exists?

45
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46
Sample
  • 111 / 137 students
  • 86 females, 25 males
  • 80 response rate overall,
  • NO REFUSALS
  • Attendance?
  • 83 of the females
  • 74 of the males
  • Average age
  • females 20.4 (SD 5.01)
  • males 19.8 (SD 4.65).
  • mature
  • females 18 age 21-47.
  • males 9 ages 23 and 41

47
Method of Analysis (Quantitative)
  • Priorities Your and Your University crude
    measure
  • Importance of Academic MINUS Importance of Non
    academic
  • Non parametric analyses were used throughout
    (Mann Whitney, Wilcoxon Matched Pairs and Chi
    Square)
  • SPSS v 12.
  • One- tailed tests Dyslexia, Self-esteem (Males
    higher than females) and performance measures,
    (females higher than males) other comparisons
    were two-tailed.

48
Performance Expectation Ladder (PEL)
Plt.001
Z2.25 plt.05 Z2.36 plt.025
49
Learning Style, Dyslexia and Self-esteem
Significant (z2.456, plt.01).
50
Prioritiesacademic non-academic
  • Plus score means academic more important

ns.
51
ABC (overall mean) scores by Sex
  • Difference not significant

52
Assessment marks by sex
53
Academic Behavioural Confidence
  • Scored significantly lower
  • Verbalising (plt0.05)
  • Grades (plt0.001)
  • Factors product of student-teacher dyad (Sander
    Sanders, 2009)
  • Therefore not significant on
  • Attendance
  • Studying
  • Factors are under student control (Sander
    Sanders, 2009)

54
Other differences
  • Lower self esteem (z2.815, plt.01)
  • More females
  • 15 1

55
  • No difference on
  • Age,
  • Learning Style,
  • Dyslexia,
  • Performance Expectations for Year Group

56
Their performance?
  • poor outcome at the end of level 1 6 with
    multiple fails or withdrawn
  • BUT
  • no difference in average marks for completed
    work.
  • CAUSE FOR CONCERN

57
Different ways of managing and organising study
(2)
  • I mean theyve already got it down for them,
    which Ill maybe do afterwards, but their just
    listening. But the girls can
  • I dont think those notes are needed really
  • And then you see them bringing their files (group
    laughter) and its all highlighted
  • Yeah, yeah the highlighters (laughter)
  • I havent got anything. I was out on the raz last
    night and theyve got files openah man

58
Different ways of managing and organising study
(4)
  • I think they have a bigger need for order, you
    know cos today we had uh sort of a lesson today
    and we, we had to write ideas down and in our
    group we gave all the writing and the organising
    to put it down on paper to the girls. Cos we knew
    to be honest theyd be neater. Theyd plan it out
    better (agreement from the other group members)
    but all the ideas and things to write down came
    from us, but they could present it really well,
    but I think we were sort of turning up all the
    ideas
  • Yeah thats true actually I never thought about
    that, yeah

59
Different ways of managing and organising study
(5)
  • Later in interview when talking about how the
    girls view them
  • mmm. Id say I am like pretty disorganised in
    like getting notes together and stuff. But like
    Ive never really felt I have to be organised cos
    Im doing
  • Yeah in a funny way being disorganised has
    worked, so far (group laughter) so to a certain
    extent its worked
  • Yeah so dont need to change it

60
Different ways of managing and organising study
(6)
  • Group 4
  • Yeah girls have better time management (laughter)
  • Yeah girls are so organisedwell most of them are
  • They seem to have more highlighters (laughter)
    and (XXX) multicoloured
  • Yeah, I think they do use their time more
    efficiently though

61
Different ways of managing and organising study
(7)
  • I and what do you base that on?
  • Just the girls that I live with cos they do
    psychology as well
  • Yeah this year Ive got two girls in my flat and
    they always hand in their stuff in on time you
    its like if youve got a problem I ask the girls
    (background yeahs)

62
Different ways of managing and organising study
(8)
  • They just tend to write everything down, and what
    they need to do and what time so everythings
    more organised, where as we leave it, leave
    everything til the last minute
  • But we can do it, we can organise it and.
  • We hand everything in on time, but just last
    minute
  • (Yeah from others)
  • We get the same end result, its just kind of how
    we go about it
  • Yeah I suppose so

63
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