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March 2006
Gender and Academic Performance in English Communication Courses
July 2007
A Case Study Of A Japanese Learner In The UK
September 2007
Course Blogs for Overseas Study Preparation: A Survey of Student Opinions
September 2007
An Emerging Japanese English
February 2009
Observations on One Japanese University's General English Program
December 2013
Incentivization and In-class Participation in the Japanese University English Language Classroom
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Gender and Academic Performance in English Communication Courses
in a Japanese University

March, 2006

By

John C. Westby, (Bachelor of Arts, Doctor of Jurisprudence)

Associate Professor

Meijo University, Faculty of Human Studies

Nagoya, Japan

Introduction

On January 14, 2005, Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, made the following comment while addressing a conference on diversifying the academic workforce, ÀIt does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population.” His remarks relating to mathematical and scientific ability among females provoked a firestorm of controversy and criticism in the United States. In fact, several studies have shown that males do better than females on tests of mathematical ability, but that conversely, females do better than males at tests involving verbal ability. My curiosity as to the truth of this theory was raised. In this paper, I compare the performance of male and female university students at a Japanese university in English communication classes. If previous research results can be relied upon, then female students can be expected to outperform their male counterparts.

Method

I examined the performance of both first and second year students of the Department of Human Studies at Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan. 39 first year female students and 21 first year male students were compared. Also, 47 second year female students and 22 second year male students were compared. I compared their performance on assignments, rates of attendance, test scores, and overall performance. I applied a statistical analysis to the data.

Performance on Assignments

The first area for analysis was the performance of male and female students on assignments. First and second year females outperformed their male counterparts. First year females averaged 1.26% higher scores on their assignments. This difference is small, however, and accounts for only about one-twelfth (0.08) of a standard deviation. Second year female students also outperformed their male counterparts. They did it by a larger margin, 3.26%. This difference accounts for nearly three-tenths (0.29) of a standard deviation. See figures 1 and 2

Figure 1

Performance on Assignments

 

1st year females

1st year males

1st year combined

2nd year females

2nd year males

2nd year combined

number

39

21

60

47

22

69

Total score

3420

1815

5235

4255

1920

6175

average

87.6923075

86.42857

87.25

90.531915

87.272725

89.4927536

Standard deviation

17.35261825

13.977022

16.14093123

11.0450679

12.123106

11.41287095

Figure 2

Rates of Attendance

The second area of analysis was rates of attendance for male and female students. First year female students attended more regularly than their male counterparts. This difference amounted to 5.53% and accounted for more than one-half (0.53) of a standard deviation. Surprisingly, second year males slightly outperformed their female counterparts. They did so by a very slim margin (0.35%), and this accounted for only about one-twenty fifth (0.038) of a standard deviation. See figures 3 and 4

Figure 3

Rates of Attendance

 

1st year females

1st year males

1st year combined

2nd year females

2nd year males

2nd year combined

number

39

21

60

47

22

69

total

3475

1755

5230

4160

1955

6115

average

89.1025641

83.57143

87.166666

88.5106383

88.863636

88.623188

Standard deviation

10.1223954

10.141851

10.389314

9.3200866

8.7194115

9.0701538

Figure 4

Test Scores

The third area of analysis was the test scores earned by male and female students. First year and second year females outscored their male counterparts. First year females outscored their male counterparts by an average of 2.72%, which accounted for about one-fifth (0.19) of a standard deviation. Second year females outscored their male counterparts by a more impressive 6.67%, accounting for nearly three-fifths (0.56) of a standard deviation. See figures 5 and 6

Figure 5

Test Scores

 

1st year females

1st year males

1st year combined

2nd year females

2nd year males

2nd year combined

number

39

21

60

47

22

69

Total score

2613.3333

1350

3963.3333

3283.3333

1390

4673.3333

Average score

67.008547

64.285714

66.055555

69.858156

63.181818

67.7294686

Standard deviation

14.013253

15.851493

14.607116

11.076315

12.826777

11.984368

Figure 6

Overall Performance

The final area of analysis was overall performance, a calculation which included performance on assignments (20%), rates of attendance (20%), and test scores (60%). Both first and second year female students outperformed their male counterparts. First year female students scored nearly 3 percent (2.99) higher on average than their male counterparts, which accounted for slightly more than one-fourth (0.26) of a standard deviation. Second year female students outperformed their male counterparts by a more impressive 4.5%, which accounted for more than one-half (0.54) of a standard deviation. See figures 7 and 8.

Figure 7

Overall Performance

 

1st year females

1st year males

1st year combined

2nd year females

2nd year males

2nd year combined

number

39

21

60

47

22

69

Total score

2947

1524

4471

3653

1611

5264

Average score

75.564103

72.571429

74.516667

77.723404

73.2272727

76.28986

Standard deviation

11.07105

12.331145

11.513429

7.4795435

9.4663908

8.365021

Figure 8

Figure 8.

Conclusions

As previous studies have suggested, females outperform their male counterparts in relation to their respective verbal abilities. This analysis tends to support that hypothesis. First and second year female students statistically outperformed their male counterparts in university level English communication courses. A further statistical analysis of the significance of these numbers using independent t-testing confirms the significance of the statistical advantage in three areas: attendance by first year females, test scores by second year females, and overall performance by second year females. In all other areas analyzed, with the exception of attendance by second year students where there was a virtual tie, female students emerged with a statistical advantage.

Works Cited

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/18/education/18harvard.html

Nowell, Amy & Hedges, Larry V., À Trends in gender differences in academic achievement from 1960 to 1994: an analysis of differences in mean, variance, and extreme scores”, Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, July 1998


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