Date of Award

Summer 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Studies

Committee Director

Petra Snowden

Committee Member

Rebecca Bowers

Committee Member

Nancy T. Jones

Committee Member

Jane Hager


Reports of the neglect of gifted students in America's schools and the inadequate mathematics involvement of females have made educators aware of a crisis in public education. Attitudes and opportunities are believed to be major influences in helping females become more involved with mathematics courses and careers. The research project examined the effect of same-sex groups versus mixed-sex groups on mathematics attitudes and achievement in fourth and fifth grade females in a mathematically gifted pilot program at a magnet center. The experimental study was analyzed with Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA), Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Regression Analysis, Post-Hoc tests, and Fishers Exact Test (a version of Chi-square). The General Linear Model was used because the groups were unbalanced (unequal). Achievement was measured in January and May with the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS). The Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales was used to assess mathematics attitude in December and in May.

Females in the experimental classrooms were grouped with other females for all cooperative work for five months during the experiment. Females in the control group were grouped in traditionally mixed-sex groups for all cooperative group work. All other instruction, requirements, teaching styles, and other classroom activities remained the same. Two teachers, one at fourth and one at fifth grade, taught both the control and experimental groups.

No statistically significant differences were found in attitude or achievement and no statistically significant relationships were found between attitudes and achievement. However, significant results were found in the frequency of student responses to the grouping arrangement. Students in the same-sex groups report significantly more positive comments and significantly less negative comments about the grouping arrangements. Students in the mixed-sex groups report significantly less positive comments and significantly more negative comments about the grouping arrangement. This finding is significant at the.005 level and supports the need to have same-sex grouping for females in mathematics classes.

Boys do not have the same social problems and are more likely to accelerate themselves through course selection (Brody & Fox, 1980; Campbell, 1986; M. Sadker & D. Sadker 1994a). Problems do exist for minorities, immigrants, African-Americans, and females in science and mathematics fields (Ascher, 1987; Kamii, 1990; Gordon, 1993). Excelling in mathematics can be enhanced through same-sex groups for students. The mathematics program and the same-sex groups provide an environment in which females are challenged to actively participate and excel. The program provides females opportunities appropriate to their abilities, cognitive development, learning style, and achievement. Positive attitudes and high achievement scores provide evidence that the advanced mathematics program for mathematically gifted females has successfully addressed factors in the environment that can affect participation in mathematics, enjoyment of mathematics, and confidence in learning mathematics.