The ASEAN Journal of Education ASEAN Journal of Education

Collaborative Learning, Gender Groupings, and Mathematics Performance

Edgar Julius A. Lim,


This study was conducted to find how students perform in class if they work in groups. It also wanted to find out which gender groupings of students facilitate comfortable studies and better academic results. An experimental research design was utilized where the subjects were randomly assigned. The subjects in this study comprised 9 groups: three all-male groups, three all-female groups, and three mixed groups. Using ANOVA, data analysis revealed that the subjects’ formative tests mean scores had no significant difference which implies that if subjects were working alone, they obtained more or less similar results. The collaborative learning treatment, where the subjects worked in different gender groups, showed that there was a significant difference in their performance. Specifically, all-female groups obtained the highest mean score followed by mixed groups; this implies that if subjects work with others whom they are comfortable with, their results increase. In the math achievement test, which was taken individually, a significant difference in the mean scores obtained was observed; this level of improvement in their learning which could be attributed to the groups they worked with and learned the concepts with.


  “The development of learning in small groups in higher education has occurred, in part, because of strong evidence indicating that students working in small groups outperform their counterparts in a number of key areas. These include knowledge development, thinking skills, social skills, and course satisfaction” (Davidson, N., & Major, C. H., 2014).  

Zurita,  Nussbaum  and  Salinas  (2005)  pointed  out  that  the  composition  of participating is one of the most important decisions to be made in a collaborative learning activity. These  compositions  produce  different  learning  and  social  interaction  results.   The ability to change the group member composition in real time and dynamically enables

the improvement of learning results and social relationships. Changes in composition also facilitate the analysis of the best criteria to be used in a determined activity.   

Some forms of group learning have become more mainstream than others, and these provide  a  useful  direction  for  faculty  to  consider  as  they  consider  the  options. The  way children learn can affect how well they learn. There are studies which indicate that boys and girls have different styles for learning, and student success can be linked to learning styles (Hein & Budny, 1999). 

  Hall (2008) stated that boys’ and girls’ brains develop differently. While girls develop verbal/linguistic skills early, boys’ brains concentrate on spatial and kinesthetic intelligences. Boys  need  more  movement  than  girls  while  they  learn  which  often  results  in  discipline difficulties in the classroom. 

  Roschelle  & Teasley  (1991)  stated  that  “collaboration  may  be  described  as  the mutual commitment of members of a small group to coordinate their efforts in order to solve a problem. Furthermore, in such an environment students can acquire new skills, ideas and knowledge by working together to build solutions to educative problems” (as mentioned by Zurita et al., 2005).  

Mathews  (1992)  found  that  high-ability  students  prefer  cooperative  learning  in groups of homogeneous ability than those of heterogeneous abilities. This means that students who are academically more inclined prefer to form a group with those who are of equal or great academic inclination  rather  than  being  grouped  with  a  student  of  lower  ability   (as mentioned by Samsudin, 2006).  

  It  has  been  shown  that  male  and  female  students  interact  with  group  members differently and that in mixed gender groups males tend to dominate (Guzzetti and Williams, 1996).  Therefore it is proposed that using single gender groups will enable female students to more actively participate. This study explored the effect of arranging cooperative learning groups by gender has on the performance of students and their level of active engagement.  

  In light of this, the researcher was motivated to pursue this study, to find out how the students perform when they work in groups. Moreover, the research sought to determine the ideal groupings for performance.

  Statement of the Problem

  The study’s objective was to find the effects of collaborative learning and gender groupings in the mathematics performance of Bachelor of Elementary Education (BEED) students. Specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions: (1) What is the performance of the students in the following: a) Formative test, b) Collaborative learning activities, c) Achievement test? (2) Is there is a significant difference in the performance of the  students  in  the  following:  a)  Formative  test,  b)  Collaborative  learning  activities,  

  1. c) Achievement test?


  The  study  was  guided  by  the  following  null  hypothesis: There  is  no  significant difference in the students’ formative test, collaborative learning activities and mathematics performance between the different gender groups.

  Significance of the Study

  This study was not conducted to determine if the collaborative learning and gender grouping are the best approaches to teaching. Instead, the results of this research can be utilized by educators to enhance the learning process in a classroom setting.   To the students, findings of this study will beneficial since they should be the focus of any classroom setting. They need to know when and how they can perform better in class. To the teachers, findings of this study will give them ideas to determine how they can make their teaching more effective.  To future researchers, findings of the study can be used to validate similar or related studies in the future. 

    Conceptual Framework


Figure 1  The Conceptual Framework of the Study

  Scope and Limitation of the Study

  This study was conducted in Eastern Samar State University College of Education during the second semester of School Year 2015 – 2016. The subjects of the study were third year Bachelor of Elementary Education (BEED) students who were enrolled in Math 321.    In interpreting the results of this study, there are several limitations to be considered. These limitations are related to the subjects, the length of the study, and the material used in the course. The subjects of the study were the third year BEED students with a very small number of male students. The instruments used were prepared by the instructor. Another limitation of the study was the length of the experiment. A six – week implementation period was necessitated by some class interruptions. 


Related Literature

  In a study of students with strong preferences to learning alone or learning in groups, Wallace (1993) found that those preferring to learn alone “evidenced statistically higher mean lesson-test scores than those who were identified as preferring to learn with peers.” Wallace suggested the possibility that this result is due to a traditional structure in the classroom, and that the organizational pattern in the classroom had not matched a preference to working with peers.  On  the  other  hand,  memory  research  indicates  that  children  remember  best  by discussing what they have learned in groups, practicing and using what they have learned, and by teaching others (Madrazo & Motz, 2005).


Culbertson  (2010)  emphasized  that  females  contributed  to  small  mixed  gender groups just as they would within the larger mixed gender classroom and that there is a notable difference in the approach each gender takes to learning physics and interacting with others. Male students are more likely to make predictions quickly, avoid questions to which they do not know the answer, provide answers and look for concrete solutions. Female students, on the other hand, tend to raise questions about the content, do not present solutions right away, invite other members of the group to participate, and look to build consensus. It has also been shown that male and female students present their objections to a learning group in very different manners.  Males tend to disagree more than females in a learning group.  Males require the group members to give evidence to any statement that is made that contradicts their reasoning for a particular phenomenon,  whereas female students tend to use an indirect approach by raising questions and stating possibilities to raise their objections (Guzzetti   et al., 1996). Furthermore it has been shown that male students tend to ignore the female students’ ideas and interrupt females as they try to explain their ideas.

  As mentioned by Kowaliw, that there are also studies that show that this method is nonconductive to learning.  Peterson, Janicki, and Swing (1981) came to the conclusion that students  who  receive  help  from  their  peers  may  or  may  not  improve  their  performance.  Harrison and Covington (1981) found that low achieving students are hindered by the fact that they may be holding their group back in a task. When comparing homogeneous male and homogeneous female pairs in cooperative tasks, researchers have come to many different conclusions.  Some research has found that male pairs are more effective than female pairs in cooperative  learning  tasks.  Webb  (1991)  found  that  male  pairs  accomplish  tasks  in  the shortest amount of time possible and are very competitive in their tasks.  Other research states that female pairs are more efficient in cooperative learning.  Cohen (1994) found that the females’ work is more deliberate and consistent to make sure that the task is completed and that the fewest amount of mistakes are made.   

The  conclusion  of  researchers  such  as Webb  (1991)  is  that  homogeneous  pairs outperform heterogeneous pairs.  Although boys competed and girls cooperated, both types of pairs still achieved their goal of getting the computer task done effectively.  This was not the case  with  heterogeneous  pairs  because  the  male  trait  of  competition  and  female  trait  of cooperation kept both children from working together.  

  In the study of  Sonya R. Porter Draper (2004) “The Effects of Gender Grouping and Learning  Style  on  Student  Curiosity  in  Modular Technology  Education  Laboratories”,   the overall scores for girl/girl groupings were higher than girl/boy and boy/boy groupings, and scores for girl/boy groupings were higher than boy/boy groupings. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to evaluate whether the gender grouping means differed significantly from each other. According to the analyses, the F-tests revealed no significant differences in gender groupings. Kowaliw in his study, “Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Gender Pairs, Controlling  Behavior, And Achievement  on  a  Cooperative  Learning  Task”,  found  his hypothesis  that  homogeneous  male  and  female  pairs  would  complete  the  task  before heterogeneous pairs was incorrect; males took the longest to complete the task. Researchers

also disagree as to which type of gender pair works most productively. Culbertson, Condes & Bradford (2010) in their study, “The Effect of Single Gender Cooperative Learning Groups in High School Physics Classes”, indicated that the gender gap is reduced when single gender groups are used, without detriment to male students, and that students, on average, prefer single gender cooperative groups.


  Research Design 

  This study utilized an experimental research design. It sought to discover the effects of collaborative learning by gender groupings in mathematics performance. The subjects in this study comprised 9 groups: three groups were all male members, another three were all female groups, and the last three were mixed groups with two male and two female members for a total of 18 male and 18 female students.

  Research Instrument

  The study utilized teacher-made formative tests, collaborative learning activities and an  achievement  test. A  dry-run  was  conducted  and  item  analysis  was  done  to  validate   the instrument. The final copy was subjected to face and content validation by a fellow math teacher.


  An  approval  to  conduct  the  study  was  secured  from  the  Dean  of  the  College.   Then, series of discussions were followed by gender-grouped collaborative learning activities, formative  tests  and  an  achievement  test  that  was  administered  at  the  end  of  the  study.   The mean was used to find the average of the formative tests, cooperative learning activity outputs and the achievement test. ANOVA was used in comparing the performance of the three collaborative  learning  groups  in their formative tests, cooperative learning activity outputs and achievement test.




Table 1   Formative Test, Collaborative Activity and Math Achievement Mean Scores of the  Three Gender Groups




  Table 1 presents the mean scores of the three gender groups in their formative tests, collaborative activity and math achievement. It shows that the all female groups obtained   the highest mean in their formative test at 27.67 and all male groups obtained the lowest mean  at  27.00.  However,  all  mean  scores  are  interpreted  as  average. This  implies  that students working alone, more or less, obtain similar scores in their individual formative tests. 

 The  table  also  presents  the  mean  scores  of  the  three  gender  groups  in  their collaborative  activities.  The  all-female  groups  earned  the  highest  mean  at  42.42   (above average), the mixed groups obtained a mean of 38.67 interpreted as above average and the all-male groups garnered the lowest mean of 34.17 (average). The result implies that all female groups performed better than the all-male group, while male students working with female students performed better as compared to if they were grouped with fellow male students. 

 It also reveals the mean scores of the three gender groups in their math achievement test. The all-female group obtained the highest mean of 45.17, as compared to the mixed group that garnered an average score of 43.17 and the all-male group with a mean of 41.67. All groups had an above average performance. Though the means vary, the differences are negligible; all groups performed better at the end of the experiment. The final result of the experiment  implies  that  collaborative  learning  and  gender  groupings  may  have  affected   the performance of the students in their achievement test. 


Table 2  ANOVA of the Formative Test in the Three Gender Groups


  Table 2 is the ANOVA table presenting the formative test results of the three gender groups with the computed F value of 21.55 greater than the tabular value of 3.29. This reveals that there is no significant difference in their test results.  The result is in consonance with the null hypothesis that there is no significant difference in the formative test results between the three different gender groups. This result implies that if tests are taken individually, the scores of the subjects will not differ significantly.


Table 3  ANOVA of the Collaborative Activity in the Three Gender Groups


  The ANOVA table presented in Table 3 shows the collaborative activity results of the three gender groups with the computed F value of 0.35 which is less than the tabular value of 3.29. This reveals that there is a significant difference in the results. The result opposes the null hypothesis that there is no significant difference in the collaborative learning activities between the three different gender groups. It implies that students working in different gender groups had a great effect in their collaborative learning outputs.


Table 4  ANOVA of the Math Achievement in the Three Gender Groups


  Table 4 is the ANOVA table presenting the math achievement test results in the three gender groups with the computed F value of 0.32 which is less than the tabular value of 3.29. This  reveals  that  there  is  a  significant  difference  in  their  test  results,  implying  that   the students, after having been exposed to collaborative learning and gender group activities, had significantly different mathematics achievement. The result rejects the null hypothesis stating  that  there  is  no  significant  difference  in  the  mathematics  achievement  between  the three different gender groups.

Results and Conclusions

  Based on the results, though the three gender groups obtained different means in their formative tests, the differences was very minimal, negligible enough to say that all students under  study  performs  similarly  when  working  individually.  In  the  collaborative  learning activities, the three gender groups obtained high differences in their mean, where the all-male groups performed very far from the all-female groups, which can be concluded that female students  when  grouped  together  turns  out  better  results  than  all  male  students  grouped together. The mean scores of the three gender groups in their Math achievement test given after the experimentation, tells that though the all-male group obtained the lowest mean,  they still performed very well in their achievement test.

  Based on statistics, the following conclusions were formulated; (1) there was no significant  difference  in  the  mean  scores  obtained  by  the  three  gender  groups  in  their formative test, probably because the students under study have similar abilities when working individually; (2) there was a significant difference in the mean of the collaborative learning activities in the three gender groups, probably because performance of collaborative learning activities depends on who do we work with; and (3) the mean in the math achievement test of the three gender groups varies significantly due to the effect of the collaborative learning activities.



  Based  on  the  findings  of  the  study,  the  following  suggestions  are  presented:   (1) mathematics teachers should know their students before starting the course to enable the former to select and employ an appropriate teaching approach and strategy; (2) teachers should utilize collaborative learning and gender groupings as a teaching approach to improve student learning; (3) school administrators should encourage professors to use other teaching approaches like collaborative learning and gender groupings to make the students the center of  the  teaching-learning  process;  (4)  school  administrators  should  send  instructors  and professors  to  seminars  on  new  trends  in  education,  strategies  and  approaches;  and  (5) future researchers should conduct a similar study.


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Key words: collaborative learning , gender groupings, math performance
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