Single-gender vs. Coeducational Classrooms in the Primary School: A Comparative and Relational Case Study of Student Engagement and Achievement

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The effects of classroom gender composition on students’ academic outcomes have been at the center of a hotly contested discourse. The Al Ain study examines differences in student engagement and student achievement levels between the single-gender and coeducational classroom settings. An assessment of the relationship between student engagement and achievement in the two contexts represents the study’s secondary purpose. Inspired by a worldwide inconsistency in findings on the subject and a dearth of literature on the role of gender composition within classrooms in the Arab world, the quantitative pilot study pins the focus on the primary classroom in two American curriculum private schools in the UAE. Unique in the sense that this causal-comparative design incorporates elements of correlational research, the study relies on a tripartite blend of methods including documentary research, lesson observations, and survey research. MAP® results, student attainment and progress in lessons, and teachers’ perceptions of their students are sought and analyzed to gauge student engagement and achievement. The study’s findings show negligible differences between the single-gender and coeducational settings for both student engagement and student achievement. An evident positive relationship between student engagement and achievement also comes to light throughout the study, although these correlations are unaffected by changes in classroom gender composition. The results of the Al Ain project support a significant body of literature which favors neither single-gender nor coeducational settings. Following an analysis of these findings, implications for wider scale research and potential policy considerations are discussed and recommendations for improved academic outcomes in both gender contexts proposed.
single-gender, coeducational, United Arab Emirates (UAE), student achievement, student engagement