To consider the arguements for single sex and mixed sex groupings

Aim

To consider the arguments for single sex and mixed sex groupings

Evidence and reflection

Use the following passage as the basis for a discussion with colleagues about the advantages and disadvantages of single and mixed sex groups. This was written by Carol Adams (1985) in a report of the ILEA Equal opportunities Inspectorate and Advisory Team:

“Observation shows that girls tend to work well co-operatively, while many boys find it more difficult, tending to be competitive. In mixed groups co-operative work can be particularly difficult.  Girls tend to be squeezed out by dominant aggressive boys, even to the extent of having to withstand harassment, or at best having to work without boys’ co-operation and active contribution”

How far does this describe the interaction in mixed groups in your classroom? What happens to the less dominant boys in mixed sex groups. How do they fare? Try to avoid generalisations about boys and girls that assume they are distinct homogenous groups but think instead about the actual individuals who you observe interacting together in your class, Remember that social class and ethnicity will be working alongside gender as influences within group dynamics.

Follow-up

Experiment with both types of grouping for specific activities in your class. For example you might consider grouping together a number of under-confident boy readers with whom you can work to provide specifically targeted reading material. On such occasions make a record of what works well and what doesn’t, drawing comparisons with what you know of your pupils’ performance in mixed sex groups.