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Boys tend to do better in science exams than girls

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Boys tend to do better in science exams than girls
Boys tend to do better in science exams than girls. wikimedia commons

New York, Dec 31, 2017: Boys tend to outperform girls in high-stakes science tests, but it is not because they are better students, according to researchers. The study, published in the journal Plos One, showed that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasised or de-emphasised the value of exams.

“This is not simply due to a ‘watering down’ of poor performance through the use of easy points,” said one of the researchers Sehoya Cotner, associate professor at the University of Minnesota. “Rather, on the exams themselves, women perform on par with men when the stakes are not so high,” Cotner said. The findings suggest that changing how instructors assess students could help close the achievement gap between male and female students in some science courses.

The results were based on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. The researchers found that female students did not under-perform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (for example, midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.

“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” Cotner said. These findings build on recent research that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses, the study added. (IANS)

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Girls Who are More Physically Active in Childhood may Have Better Lung Functioning in Adolescence

The high prevalence of physical inactivity observed in children is worrying

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Girls, Active, Childhood
The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, examined the relationship between physical activity, from childhood to young days and lung function in adolescence in 2,300 boys and girls participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Pixabay

Parents, please take note. Researchers have demonstrated an association between regular physical activity during childhood and higher lung function in adolescent girls compared to boys.

The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, examined the relationship between physical activity, from childhood to young days and lung function in adolescence in 2,300 boys and girls participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

“The high prevalence of physical inactivity observed in children is worrying. Extrapolated to the population as a whole, this is a factor that could have a considerable impact on lung function,” said Judith Garcia Aymerich from Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).

“Strategies for promoting physical activity in childhood could be highly beneficial for the respiratory health of the population,” she added.

Girls, Active, Childhood
Researchers have demonstrated an association between regular physical activity during childhood and higher lung function in adolescent girls compared to boys. Pixabay

According to the researchers, the children’s physical activity was recorded using an Actigraph sensor over seven-day periods at 11, 13 and 15 years of age and their lung function was analysed by spirometry at 8 and 15 years of age.

The children’s parents also completed questionnaires on socio-demographic, psychological and lifestyle-related factors.

The researchers defined low, moderate and high physical activity trajectories.

“Girls in the moderate and high physical activity trajectories had a higher exhalation capacity — that is, greater forced expiratory volume — than girls in the low physical activity trajectory,” said study lead author Celina Roda from ISGlobal.

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In contrast, no such association was observed in boys. One possible explanation, according to researchers, is that “growth spurts occur earlier in girls than in boys, so any effect of physical activity on lung function can be more easily observed at an earlier age in girls”.

The findings showed that less than 7 per cent of the children achieved the level of physical activity recommended by the World Health Organisation — a minimum of 60 minutes each day. (IANS)