Inga DeschMelanie BastenNadine GroßmannMatthias Wilde

Gender differences in the perception of moderate constructivist learning environments

The effects of autonomy support by means of students’ choice


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The German school system seems to be less suitable for boys than for girls as boys seem to have more difficulties adapting to it. Supporters of the moderate constructivism suggest a learning environment that promotes, amongst other criteria, active, self-regulated, constructivist, emotional, situational and social learning. In this study, the lesson plan was constructed on the basis of the students’ choices. The perception of constructivist elements in the lesson was evaluated by the students afterwards. It is of particular interest whether there is a gender difference in the perception of the lessons in terms of the six criteria of moderate constructivism and if boys and girls who choose their topics perceive their lesson to be more constructivist. In this study, 294 students were taught in biology. The experimental group chose their topic and teaching methodology, the control group received the same topic and teaching methodology but without having chosen it. As expected, girls of the control group perceived the lesson to be more constructivist than boys of the control group did. Girls of the experimental group showed higher values in two of the criteria of moderate constructivism than girls of the control group did. Boys of the experimental group had higher values in four criteria of the moderate constructivism than boys of the control group did. Both sexes, especially boys, profit from the intervention student choice.

Constructivism; Student choices; Gender differences; Biology lesson