doctor in Psychology
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Academic achievement, which is inherently an indicator of progress in the curriculum, can also be viewed as an indirect measure of cognitive development, social adaptation, and motivational climate characteristics. In addition to its direct application, academic achievement is used as a mediating factor in the study of various phenomena, from the etiology of learning disabilities to social inequality. Analysis of sex differences in mathematical achievement is considered particularly important for exploring academic achievement, since creating an adequate educational environment with equal opportunities for boys and girls serves as a prerequisite for improving the overall mathematical and technical literacy that is crucial for modern society, creates balanced professional opportunities, and destroys traditional stereotypes about the roles of men and women in society.
The objective of our research was to analyze sex differences in mathematical achievement among high school students and to compare various methods for diagnosing academic performance, such as school grades, test scores, and self-concept.
The results were obtained through two population studies whose samples are representative of the Russian population in the relevant age group. Study 1 looked at sex differences in math grades among twins (n = 1,234 pairs) and singletons (n = 2,227) attending high school. The sample of Study 2 comprised all twins who took the Unified State Examination in 2010–2012. The research analyzed sex differences in USE math scores across the entire sample and within the extreme subgroups. It also explored differences between boys and girls in opposite-sex dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs.
The key results were as follows. No difference in mathematical achievement was observed between twins and singletons. Sex differences were found in all measures of mathematical achievement. Girls had higher school grades in math than boys, while boys outperformed girls in USE math scores. Boys were more variable and there were more boys at the right tail of the distribution. Girls with a positive math self-concept did better than boys on math tests. In groups of opposite-sex DZ twins, differences between the USE math scores of girls and boys were not significant.
The results obtained are presumed to correspond more closely to assumptions about the roles of non-cognitive factors of variation in mathematical ability than the mathematical ability theory.
Keywords: mathematical achievement, sex differences, school grades, math tests, selfconcept