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Boys' classroom behavior may be holding them back THURSDAY, JANUARY 03, 2013 18:14 PM

Boys'' classroom behavior may be holding them back If parents are displeased with their children's academic performance, they may want to have them take a personality test to see if their characteristics are getting in the way of better grades. That is because researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA) and Columbia University believe that how boys and girls behave at school determines how their teachers assess them.

In a study, the results of which appear in the "Journal of Human Resources," the researchers set out to discover why girls tend to get better grades in elementary school than boys. To find an answer, they analyzed data on more than 5,800 kindergarteners through fifth-graders, including teachers' assessments of them, as well as scores from standardized tests.

The researchers found that teachers tend to favor female students over their male classmates early on. However, pupils' academic performance did not influence their instructors' assessments of them so much as their behavior in the classroom did.

Children's interpersonal skills, how often they externalized problems or lost control of themselves were all factors that appeared to influence teachers' views of their students. For boys, this can be a problem later in their academic careers.

"… If grade disparities emerge this early on, it's not surprising that by the time these children are ready to go to college, girls will be better positioned," said Christopher Cornwell, head of economics in the UGA Terry College of Business and co-author of the study. 


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