The purpose of this study was to determine if gender bias still exists in middle and high school science classrooms. Gender bias in science classrooms has been documented for decades in educational research and specific initiatives have been enacted to eradicate this gender bias. Using a verbal interactions collection instrument to delineate various types of teacher-student interaction during the course of a normal science class, I observed eight science classes in middle and high schools (grades 7-9), recorded teacher-student verbal interactions and the teachers’ classroom management techniques, then evaluated the data semi-quantitatively to determine if bias existed, and if so, the types of interaction that were affected by bias. It was discovered that gender bias is still present in the classroom, but it stems from non-academic behaviors rather than from the teacher’s perceptions of student intelligence or ability as in previous gender bias research. Additionally, it was determined that specific classroom management techniques helped to minimize or exacerbate gender bias in the science classroom. The most obvious solution to minimize gender bias in science class is to have single-sex science classes. Where this is not practical, the use of classroom management techniques that allow for whole-class verbal interactions rather than specific student-teacher interactions can also be effective to minimize gender bias.
Semester/Year of Award
Melissa S. Dieckmann
Mentor Department Affiliation
Physics, Geosciences, and Astronomy
Restricted Access Thesis
Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership
Department Name when Degree Awarded
IRB Approval Number (if applicable)
Staverman, Kaitlin, "Does Sex Matter? A Look at Middle and High School Science Classrooms" (2012). Honors Theses. 8.
Figure 2. Results for a Grade 9 Mixed Classroom.jpg (25 kB)
Figure 3. Results for a Grade 7 Mixed Classroom.jpg (22 kB)
Figure 4. Verbal Interactions for Single-Sex Femal Class, Grade 9.jpg (28 kB)
Figure 5. Verbal Interactions for Single-Sex Male Class, Grade 9.jpg (27 kB)