Date of Award

Spring 2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine what school subjects elementary school aged children perceived as more masculine and feminine.

A researcher-developed survey was used to obtain students’ perceptions and attitudes regarding a variety of school subjects and areas. The subjects for this study were 300 elementary school boys and girls, grades four through six from both urban and suburban school districts. The surveys were given to various elementary school teachers to administer to their students, which the students were required to complete and return to the teacher. Once these surveys were completed and returned to the researcher, the results were tallied and analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

For the purpose of this study, the perceptions of what school subjects boys and girls grade four through six deemed as more masculine and feminine were indicated in terms of perceived ability levels.

The results of this study indicated that, in terms of perceived ability levels, by grade six, students believed that boys and girls were predominantly equal at mathematics and social studies. Results indicated that boys were believed to more capable in science and physical education and girls were believed to be more capable in the areas of reading, writing, and music. It seemed that each gender believed themselves to be best in art; in the area of library, attitudes varied between girls being more adept and neither boys nor girls being more adept. The area of computers also had differing views, but by sixth grade, it was essentially believed that neither gender was more capable then the other.

However, when ranking the importance of school subjects, it seemed that boys, grades four through six, tended to place mathematics, science, and physical education as the most important school subjects. Girls, grades four through six, typically placed reading, writing, art, and music as the most important school subjects. The areas of social studies and computers were of little interest to students at these grade levels, as these two areas were placed very low in the ranking.

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