Girls 'do better' at university when classes are single sex

New research shows girls achieve higher marks in single-sex lessons at university

Girls do better at university if they are taught in single-sex classes, according to new research.

Students at Essex University were randomly split into three groups, male only, female only and mixed.

At the end of the year, the marks of the girls-only class were eight per cent higher than either of the other groups. The split, though, had no effect on the boys' only or mixed classes.

The findings could have policy implications for the way students are taught in future – both at university and in schools, according to academics. It may lead to demands for more single-sex teaching.

Universities, in particular, are striving to become more "consumer-friendly" with the advent of the new fees regime, and may find girls seeking to be taught on their own if they believe it will lead to a higher degree pass.

Patrick Nolen, who conducted the research with Alison Booth – both from the university's economics department, said: "I would like to see policy makers think about this."

The pilot project, involving first-year female economics students, was launched after an experiment with schools in Essex and Suffolk to see if girls taught on their own were more likely to be competitive and take risks than those taught in co-educational classes.

The pupils were randomly split into three groups just like the university students, with the result that those who had been to an all-girls' school showed themselves to be more competitive and prepared to take risks.

In addition, though, the women were also more likely to take high-risk options if they were in the Essex University experiment's all-girls group.

A summary of the project by Drs Nolen and Booth in the New Economic Journal concluded: "This finding is relevant to the policy debate on whether or not single-sex classes within co-ed schools could be a useful way forward."

Students who had taken part in the university experiment were not told details of the research project.

"I think the atmosphere [in the all girls' classes] was more friendly," said Corina Musat, 20. "We bonded because we were all girls." The tutor was male, she added. "We talked about him a lot," she said.

The girls were in the class for only 20 minutes a week but Emilia Matei, also 20, said: "I think it was the best class I had last year. I don't know whether it was because it was a single-sex class or whether it was the teaching."

Diana Burlan, also 20, said: "Boys are more competitive than girls. They like to answer questions. Girls are more shy. Maybe they are afraid of being judged. Maybe that's why we don't answer."

All three are now in their second year and are back in a mixed classroom, and say they are now less likely to be as competitive.

Dr Nolen said that some countries had tried to get around the problem of too few women being on the board of companies by setting a quota system for their leading companies. "We shouldn't be attempting to solve this at that stage," he said. "We should be investigating it and intervening in the environment in which students learn."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

EYFS, KS1, KS2 Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to be part ...

class teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: a small rural school, is ...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: "Where teaching is e...

Health & Social CareTeacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a health an...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?