"It all depends…": Middle School Teachers Evaluate Single-Sex Classes

Spielhagen, Frances R.
March 2011
Research in Middle Level Education Online;2011, Vol. 34 Issue 7, p1
Academic Journal
This mixed-methods study explored the effectiveness of single-sex classes according to key stakeholders in this educational reform -- the teachers who choose or are hired to teach in single-sex classes and schools. Specifically, this study examined the on-the-ground experiences of middle school teachers as they attempted to implement a relatively new and somewhat controversial school reform in a large urban center in the southeastern United States. The teachers offered important insights into the ways they approached single-sex classes at the beginning of the school year, including the differences in the ways boys and girls learn. The teachers also reached conclusions as the school year was ending. Are single-sex classes effective? According to the teachers in this study, it depends on a complex set of factors. In this study, adolescent developmental changes were brought into sharp focus in the single-sex classes. By the end of the school year, the initially optimistic attitudes of the teachers toward the behavior of their students in the single-sex classes had diminished. Not surprisingly, administrative support and professional development also emerged as critically important. Finally, despite their negative assessment of some of the aspects of single-sex classes, these teachers maintained that the reform should remain an option for parents and students.


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