Single sex schools vs coed schools research paper

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Stanford University's Undergraduate Economics Journal

Single-sex schools are schools divided by gender rather than being mixed. They are growing more popular as learning is easier without the distraction of the opposite gender which may also result to higher grades and standardized test scores. But there are also negative effects to this style of learning.

For one, single gender classes can increase gender stereotype and segregation, along with decreasing student diversity Recently, a hand full of various public schools in the United States have switched their systems to single sex.

Single-sex or co-ed school?

Boards of education chose to switch because of the research that scientists and colleges have found from conducting numerous studies on the effects on single sex schooling opposed to coed schooling. By using test scores, researchers have been able to prove that single sex schools positively benefit students more often than not Kleiner Term Papers words 4. The single-sex format creates opportunities that do not exist in the coed classroom. Edison 1 Researchers are unaware that both genders brains function differently. This lack of knowledge may be why the real truth about single-sex education being more efficient than co-ed education has not been discovered.

Some say single-sex education may be the key for a brighter generation. It shows to improve test score dramatically. The scale we used to measure mixed-gender anxiety was analyzed in different subscales given specific names to indicate whether the items concerned romantic i.

Is Single-Gender Education Better for Students?

Participants reported the level of anxiety in various mixed-gender situations such as actual dating in the college sample , meeting a potential dating partner and casual get-togethers. All groups of participants reported moderate levels of anxiety, reflecting the centrality of mixed-gender relationship that adolescents and young adults attach to themselves [ 1 , 29 , 32 , 33 ].

However, male students reported greater mixed-gender anxiety in the form of Fear of Negative Evaluation in both samples and Social Distress in Potential Romantic Relationship in the high school sample. Prior studies have also found that males reported greater anxiety towards mixed-gender romance and friendships [ 31 , 36 , 63 ]. The direction and size of the gender differences d ranging from. This gender difference may be related to the greater social expectation for men than women to take initiative and make an impression in mixed-gender interactions [ 36 , 63 ].

More importantly, compared to coeducational school students, current single-sex school students scored higher on all forms of mixed-gender anxiety, and graduates from single-sex schools scored higher on anxiety in dating situations and casual mixed-gender groups, even after controlling for general social anxiety.

Results were in line with the evidence of more negative marriage outcomes in middle-aged graduates of single-sex schools [ 11 , 42 ] and one small uncontrolled study that found lower mixed-gender friendship satisfaction in 10 th grade students of single-sex schools [ 43 ]. We further showed that the difference in mixed-gender anxiety was significant even after controlling for demographic characteristics that often cloud comparisons of single-sex and coeducational school students, and that this difference existed above and beyond general social anxiety.

Associated Data

The differences in mixed-gender anxiety between single-sex and coeducational schools d s ranging from. Moreover, it is intriguing that the effect of school did not interact with student gender, suggesting that both male and female students from single-sex schools experienced more mixed-gender anxiety. Because the social outcomes of single-sex school graduates may change after they immerse themselves into a coeducational environment e. However, it appeared that the differences between single-sex and coeducational school graduates in mixed-gender anxiety and friendships did not change throughout the college years, implying that the school type effects were long lasting.

Besides mixed-gender anxiety, mixed-gender friendships and gender salience were compared between school types. They were also tested as potential mediators of the school differences in mixed-gender anxiety. As expected based on the finding that same-gender peer preference remains strong throughout the lifespan [ 1 ], both coeducational and single-sex school students reported that only a minority of their friends, regardless of close friends or not, were of a different gender.

Consistent with the negative correlation between mixed-gender friendships and mixed-gender anxiety [ 34 , 35 ], mixed-gender friendships mediated the school differences in mixed-gender anxiety in both high school and college samples, suggesting that having fewer other-gender friends may be a possible reason why single-sex school students felt more mixed-gender anxiety. There were significant indirect effects in the alternative mediation models for both samples, meaning that single-sex schooling may also lead to reduced mixed-gender friendships by heightening mixed-gender anxiety.

These bi-directional mediations were consistent with the view that mixed-gender anxiety and poor mixed-gender social skills or relationships may escalate in a vicious cycle [ 29 ]. The finding that gender salience was higher in current single-sex school students supported the speculations against single-sex schooling [ 2 , 4 ].

Co-ed vs. Single Sex Schools

To our knowledge, this is the first empirical evidence showing directly a difference in gender salience between students from single-sex and coeducational schools. This difference, however, was found only in the high school sample, suggesting that any effect of gender-segregated schooling on this variable disappears within a few years upon departure from the gender-segregated environment. This finding did not preclude the possibility that certain characteristics of single-sex schools reduce gender salience e. However, although gender salience showed the expected difference between school types, it was not a mediator of the school differences in mixed-gender anxiety.

Anxiety in mixed-gender situations has negative social [ 29 , 31 , 34 ], psychological and physical effects [ 38 — 40 ]. People high on mixed-gender anxiety tend to avoid mixed-gender situations and be less happy about them, which may result in a disruption of the learning process of establishing functional mixed-gender relationships [ 29 , 31 , 32 , 34 , 37 ] and pose challenges for transition into adulthood.

Although students in single-sex schools may not need to face interpersonal problems in mixed-gender situations at school, interactions in mixed-gender groups are inevitable at many points in life. For example, classes are rarely gender-segregated in college and many courses require students to form study groups randomly, where students will have to cooperate with both same- and other-gender peers in order to optimize their learning outcomes.

In this case, mixed-gender anxiety may become an obstacle to getting better academic results. When female students avoid science and engineering classes or when male students avoid nursing classes, the number of women in science and engineering jobs and the number of men in nursing jobs may be diminished, in turn exacerbating the problems when one gender is underrepresented in fields, such as inequity in earnings and stifled talent. Besides, as students are likely to meet their future partner during adolescence and early adulthood, mixed-gender anxiety may diminish the chance of building successful romantic relationships for heterosexual individuals.

Reduced exposure to mixed-gender interactions has been suggested to predispose adolescents to experience mixed-gender anxiety [ 34 , 35 ].

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Consistent with this notion, we found students of single-sex schools reported having fewer other-gender friends in both high school and college samples. Also, single-sex school students reported higher levels of three different types of mixed-gender anxiety, two of which remained higher than coeducational school students even after leaving the gender-segregated environment. The effects were small. However, they were found in both male and female students, and remained in the college years.

Moreover, the school type differences were mediated by mixed-gender friendships. These findings substantiated the concerns that the reduced opportunities for single-sex school students to engage in mixed-gender interactions may negatively affect their ability to deal with the other gender [ 2 , 8 , 10 ] and to adapt to society [ 9 ]. They suggested potential benefits for single-sex schools to increase mixed-gender activities early on in order to compensate for the inherently limited opportunities for mixed-gender interactions.

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Besides, for both male and female students, teaching more androgynous gender roles may be beneficial because higher masculinity has been found to correlate with higher discomfort with mixed-gender situations whereas androgynous men were more comfortable and confident than either masculine or undifferentiated men in these situations [ 63 , 65 ].

We did not find gender salience to be related to mixed-gender anxiety. This may imply that interventions for reducing mixed-gender anxiety should focus more on mixed-gender friendships instead of gender salience.

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  • However, it may be that gender salience mediates mixed-gender anxiety under specific circumstances, such as when coupled with low perceived competence in mixed-gender interactions. This finding also did not preclude the possibility for higher gender salience in single-sex school students to translate into greater gender-stereotyping, as predicted by the developmental intergroup theory [ 16 ]. However, currently it is difficult to make this conclusion because findings on how single-sex or coeducational school students differ on various aspects of gender-stereotyping and gender cognitions are mixed cf.

    Nevertheless, the finding of higher gender salience in current students from single-sex schools itself may call for attention, as people with higher gender salience develop more rigid gender stereotypes and negativity towards the other gender [ 16 , 22 , 23 ].

    As in many studies of single-sex schooling, random assignment was not possible, therefore there was no certainty that the observed differences between students from single-sex schools and coeducational schools were caused by gender segregation. Also, it would be impossible to control for all potentially confounding variables. However, by controlling for a multitude of key demographic variables, this study would be classified as one of the highly controlled studies on single-sex schooling [ 4 ].

    It is thus questionable that students were self-selected into single-sex or coeducational schools based on pre-existing levels of the current outcomes gender salience, mixed-gender friendships, and mixed-gender anxiety. Mixed-gender anxiety and mixed-gender friendships were not measured at different time points, so we cannot rule out the possibility that the differences in mixed-gender friendship were mediated by mixed-gender anxiety. MacKinnon et al. In consideration of this possibility, we also tested the alternative mediation models and the results suggested reciprocal influences between mixed-gender anxiety and mixed-gender friendships.

    Are Single-Sex Schools More Effective Than Co-Ed Schools?

    While policy and ethical restrictions may make it difficult to use experimental paradigms to validate mediation relations such as those we hypothesized, qualitative studies may help to achieve this goal [ 50 ]. Regardless of causality, the descriptive differences in gender salience, mixed-gender anxiety, and mixed-gender friendships found between single-sex and coeducational school students and between high school and college students provide valuable data that inform an intense debate and intervention strategies.

    The two samples each had limitations and strengths. Like many prior studies, the high school sample was limited by the inclusion of a few schools [ 67 ], but its sample size was large. The college sample was limited in the sense that it included high school graduates currently studying at a large university, and so may be more academically competent and of higher socioeconomic status than the general body of high school graduates.

    However, the generalizability of the college sample was increased by its inclusion of graduates from many different high schools. There was some evidence that the two samples were at least demographically similar to students from other high schools and universities in the same region e. Besides, homogeneity of the sample may have the benefit of increasing control over sample characteristics [ 67 , 69 ].

    Both samples were also relatively large compared to those in other single-sex schooling research on social outcomes, for which data cannot be provided by existing large-scale data sets see studies included in [ 4 ]. Most importantly, the convergent evidence from the two samples, each with its own strengths and limitations, added to the reliability of the findings. Results showed differences between students from single-sex and coeducational schools at both high school and college, suggesting that prior gender segregation had lasting effects on social outcomes.

    However, we were not able to show within-person changes. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate these changes. Moreover, part of the study was based on self-reported mixed-gender anxiety. Well-controlled experimental or observational paradigms may be needed to better capture participants' experienced anxiety. Transgender individuals may not fit into the current research on mixed-gender interaction and our study did not cover the dating anxiety of nonheterosexual individuals. Future studies could extend the scope of research to include more genders and sexual orientations and explore the type of anxiety which may be more relevant to transgender and nonheterosexual individuals.