Though boys typically perform better than girls in mathematics, a newshows that girls’ superior verbal skills tend to make them better at arithmetic.
A group of researchers in China and the United States did a series of tests with children ages 8 to 11 at a dozen primary schools around Beijing and found that girls were better at arithmetic, including simple subtraction and complex multiplication. They outperformed boys on tasks such as recognizing the larger of two numbers and completing a series of numbers, while boys did better at mentally rotating three-dimensional images, according to the researchers. One explanation for girls’ superior performance on arithmetic is that counting is verbal and multiplication tables are memorized verbally.
The full study was published online this month by Psychological Science.
A version of this article appeared in the February 29, 2012 edition of Education Week as Mathematics