Thursday, 23 April 2009

Rush to apply to new universities

Applications at new universities have been increasing. As a result it could be that many applicants will be turned away. The recession has put pressure on the jobs market, this has as an outcome that many people are enrolling at institutions in England and Scotland.
For years the government has been urging a widening participation in higher education. Now that it has happened the government faces new challenges for extra funding. There is some uncertainty about the higher education funding, since the announcement of yesterday’s budget.
Universities claim that it would be impossible to turn away students whilst calls are made asking for a better-qualified workforce. The government should keep in mind that this is a long-term goal and it will take some time.

The credit crunch made a lot of people see that an education is important. It is an amazing reaction to the rising unemployment numbers. People wanting to learn again and educate themselves, so they an bring something to the table. The downside of course is that the government first wants everyone to learn and the moment it happens: there is no budget for it! All in all I think the government will see the importance of education and find some money somewhere.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Class gender mix affects results

Steven Proud from Bristol University has analyzed the peer effects considering gender. The study is based on the analysis of national and exam results of every state school in England between 2002 and 2004. There were two remarkable results. The first result was that it would be more beneficial for boys to be taught English in a homogenous group, all boys. For maths and science gender mixed classes are preferable. Overall, boys would benefit if they are to be taught maths and science in a more female group. Girls would do best in a same sex group, all girls.
Proud mentions three reasons that could have affected the boys results. The first reason is that the boys are being “crowded out”, being left out. The second reason is that boys and girls have different learning styles. If there are more girls in a group than boys, the teacher will adjust his teaching to the teaching style of the majority. The third reason is that boys tend to be more disruptive in lessons.
Nowadays,English schools have a statutory “gender equality duty” to deal with the relative underachievement of boys and girls.

It is remarkable how many things are researched. Although, the results show that girls benefit from a same sex group while learning maths and science, the chance is slim to non that this will be done at schools. Steven Proud also mentions a few reasons that could be an influence on the test results and these are pretty predictable and not very surprising. It is funny though that even with these test results, the statutory “gender equality duty” remains in classes to deal with relative underachievement, while the research has shown that separation would have a positive effect on results.