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Amanda Pinzon, Laura L. Alpaugh

Increasing Female Class Participation in a Fifth Grade Math Classroom

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There has been an observable trend in education centered around the class participation of girls versus boys. Females tend to be less active than their male counterparts when it comes to voluntary participation. Math is a particularly difficult subject in which girls struggle to have their voices heard. Reasons behind this trend may vary from personal perception issues to simple learning styles and preferences. Whatever the culprit, there seems to be much left unsaid in the co-ed classroom. While there is largely agreement that young girls should have more of a voice in the classroom, little study has be done to investigate how to improve this at the elementary level. While these grades do not contain the mathematical rigor of more advanced levels, the time is still a vital period of personal development.

The purpose of this study is to investigate what continues to hold back many girls from participating in math class while their boy classmates seem to volunteer themselves at a whim. While uncovering these truths, the goal is also to encourage girls to increase participation through one-on-one encouragement and mentorship. A group of eleven fifth grade girls is selected based on observed low participation and receive authorization from their guardians to participate in this study. This action research is conducted with a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to record the progress of each girl through a period of 4 weeks throughout implementation. Intervention is conducted inside and outside of the classroom. Through a mix of intervention methods, it is found that improved participation results vary depending on the girl and the circumstances and seems highly dependent on constant intervention. However, a positive impact is reflected by the observable data of a number of girls.

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