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Single-Sex School Girls Outperform Girls Attending a Co-Educative School in Mental Rotation Accuracy

Abstract

Do girls attending a single-sex school outperform their same-sex counterparts attending co-educative schools when solving a mental rotation task known to produce substantial gender differences favoring males? In total, 252 German pupils (126 8th/12th graders each) attending single-sex (84 girls) or co-educative (84 boys and girls each) high-schools in North-Rhine Westphalia (west Germany) participated. All pupils completed the “Mental Rotations Test” (MRT). We found that in grade 12 girls attending a single-sex school outperformed their same-sex counterparts attending co-educational schools. In grade eight no differences between both groups were observed. As expected, the well known gender difference between 12th grade boys and co-educative girls had been found. Expectations as well as possible consequences are discussed.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the German Research Foundation. We thank Michael Peters, for his friendly permission to use his tests in this study. Furthermore, we thank all pupils and teachers of the Ursulinenschule Bonn-Hersel, the Theodor-Fliedner-Gymnasium Kaiserswerth, the Goerres-Gymnasium Duesseldorf and the Luisengymnasium Duesseldorf for their support and participation.

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Correspondence to Corinna Titze.

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Titze, C., Jansen, P. & Heil, M. Single-Sex School Girls Outperform Girls Attending a Co-Educative School in Mental Rotation Accuracy. Sex Roles 65, 704–711 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-9947-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-9947-y

Keywords

  • Spatial cognition
  • Gender differences
  • Single sex schooling
  • Co-education
  • Stereotype thread