A new study released by the University of Pittsburgh contrasts the behavior of school boys in the United States with those from China, South Korea, and Taiwan. While teachers in each country but China thought of boys as more disruptive than girls, tests showed that the only real differences existed in the United States.
Researchers using behavioral assessments found that American girls exhibited better control over their behavior than boys, but the Asian countries showed no significant gender differences. And yet, surveys of teachers showed a belief that girls had better behavior than boys in the United States, Taiwan, and South Korea, revealing discrepancies in Taiwan and South Korea between perception and reality.
Studies often tie behavior to classroom achievement, and even if there isn’t causation, behavior is highly predictive of achievement. That’s why schools have started turning to behavioral assessments to help mitigate dropout problems. The more often students receive discipline, the more likely they are to drop out.
But I think the perceptional differences are the interesting part of the study. To some degree, it doesn’t matter whether girls actually have better behavior than boys nearly as much as it matters what the teacher thinks. After all, the teacher gives the participation grade, and decides who gets sent to the office for discipline.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.