Learning achievement in upper secondary school chemistry in thailand: Some remarkable sex reversals

Sunee Klainin, Peter J. Fensham

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    The problems of girls’ underachievement in school science and in particular the physical sciences, has been widely documented in recent years. The findings of this study in Thailand do not confirm the previous findings. Girls in upper secondary schools outperform their boy counterparts in practical skills, theoretical knowledge of chemistry and attitudes to science. The differences in practical skills are greater in the earlier grades, but in theoretical knowledge the larger differences are in the later grades. These findings negate the possible validity of a biological interpretation of these sorts of sex differences.Some of the possible social sources of bias common in the school systems of Western societies are not present in Thailand. The majority of chemistry teachers are women and curriculum development was in the hands of women. However, the content of the course and its accompanying materials are not obviously very different from modern chemistry courses elsewhere. On the other hand, there does appear to be cultural evidence that may make laboratory activities in chemistry more natural to girls in Thailand.In Thailand both boys and girls at these levels of schooling are required to take all three sciences, viz., physics, chemistry and biology. The study raises major questions about the choice that exists within the curriculum of many Western countries and the extent to which this ‘choice’ becomes a major avenue for the biases of society to be reflected in the school system

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)217-227
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1987

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